Army deploys ‘spotters’ to protect NGCP towers vs saboteurs
PIKIT, COTABATO – Military authorities here have deployed “spotters” and lookouts to foil attempts by extremists to bomb power lines in Cotabato and nearby areas, an Army official said.
Lt. Colonel Rowel Gavinales, commander of the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion based here, said this came about after an attempt by armed groups to bomb one of the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) in Sitio Punol, Barangay Batulawan in Pikit town of Cotabato province on Saturday.
Police and military authorities inspected NGCP’s Tower No. 39 which was bombed in Barangay Batulawan and found that although the twin blasts caused minor damage, these did not affect the structure’s integrity, Gavinales said.
Inspecting bomb experts also recovered one improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from 81mm mortars on site.
“The bombs were attached to its braces and not on the four legs of the steel tower, thus the structure remained,” Gavinales said, adding that this was an indication those who installed these were not really after the toppling of the tower but were “sending a message” to the company.
He said it was the same tower where three IEDs were set off on June 12 this year allegedly by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The structure only suffered minor damage.
Gavinales said his unit employed locals living near power transmission towers to help authorities suppress economic sabotage.
Barangay Batulawan of Pikit was one of the 63 barangays in Cotabato province that opted to be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and is now part of the expanded autonomous region’s Special Geographic Area.
On Sunday afternoon, a three-hour power service interruption hit consumers in the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao del Norte, and Cotabato City, not because of the bombing but due to technical failure, the NGCP said.
Portions of the 69 KV line in Barangay Abaga, Libungan, Cotabato province sagged and fell across the national highway near a gas station, triggering a five-hour brownout in the province. Power was restored at about 10 p.m.