Plot to topple NGCP tower in Cotabato province foiled
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao del Norte — Army and police bomb experts foiled an attempt on June 12 by a lawless group to topple a transmission tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Pikit, Cotabato province.
Lieutenant Colonel Rowel Gavilanes, 90th Infantry Battalion commander, said military and police explosive and ordnance disposal units safely disarmed the three improvised explosive devices made of anti-personnel mines attached to the posts of NGCP Tower 39 in Sitio Punol, Barangay Batulawan, Pikit about 10 a.m. on Monday, June 12, when the country was commemorating Independence Day.
Gavilanes said at about 8:30 a.m. a mild explosion transpired in Sitio Punol, Barangay Batulawan. Civilians who heard the blast reported it to local police and an Army detachment nearby.
“There was an explosion at 8:30 a.m. so we sent our bomb experts to the site to check. There, they found three more improvised bombs,” Gavilanes said in his report to the 602nd Infantry Brigade and 6th Infantry Division.
Brigadier General Donald Gumiran, 602nd brigade commander, said the military was on heightened alert after the successful deactivation of the IEDs to prevent diversionary tactics or retaliatory attacks from lawless groups.
Gumiran said the discovery of IEDs in Pikit came a day after civilians in Barangay Kadigasan, Midsayap, Cotabato discovered an unexploded ordnance (UXO), an 81mm high explosive (HE), which bomb experts immediately deactivated.
Lieutenant Colonel John Miridel Calinga, Pikit municipal police station commander, said the plot to bomb the NGCP tower could be the handiwork of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“It has the signatures of BIFF, meaning this is their regular home-made bomb,” Calinga said.
“It was not meant to harm civilians but only the towers, since the site was far from residential areas,” Calinga said in a radio interview.
Major General Alex Rillera, 6th ID commander, placed the entire Army units under the division area of operation to ensure “everybody is safe.”
Rillera, also commander of Joint Task Force Central, said had the plot succeeded, it would have caused massive power service interruption in parts of Cotabato province, Maguindanao Sur, and Maguindanao Norte.
“We continue to secure vital utilities to ensure public safety and protect the people from economic and peace and order disturbances,” Rillera said.