BIFF offers to guard NGCP towers as another power pylon is bombed in Lanao Norte
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Another power pylon of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) was bombed by unidentified men in Balo-i town in Lanao del Norte early Monday.
Elizabeth Ladaga, NGCP – Mindanao corporate communications officer, however, could not say which areas have been affected by the bombing on the tower.
Col. Gilbert Gapay, commanding officer of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said troops have been deployed to investigate bombing
“I suspect this has something to do with the right of way that confronts the NGCP,” he said.
Lt. Col. Anthon Abrina, chief of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said improvised bombs were attached to each of the “four legs of the pylon tower, but only two exploded.”
Following the attack, the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) denied having a hand in the bombing, and offered to help the government guard the power pylons of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesman, issued the statement in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer a day after warning of launching more attacks against government soldiers.
Mama said on Monday the BIFF would be ready help secure vital facilities of the NGCP.
“We will help secure the towers, because we know pass on sa consumer ang gasto ng NGCP diyan (repair expenses will be passed on to electric consumers),” Mama, speaking for the BIFF, told the Inquirer by phone.
“We are electric consumers too and we are burdened by losses, so we will help secure it in our own way,” Mama added.
The cost of restoration and repair of the damaged towers will be charged to the consumers, based on an order of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Denying the BIFF had a hand in the previous toppling of NGCP’s steel towers, Mama said his group had no idea who has been behind the series of bomb attacks on the structures in areas where the BIFF has been operating.
“Maybe people who have rights of way claim to the NGCP were behind it. This is only my assumption,” he said in Filipino when asked if he had any idea who was behind the attacks.
“I cannot promise but we will do our best to help in whatever way we can to prevent bombing,” Mama added. He said the BIFF leadership would soon pass a resolution directing its men in the field to help secure the steel tower.
The outspoken rebel spokesperson also said the BIFF would “lie low” from its offensives against the military “because they are on alert, nakabantay sila (they are watching us), we will attack if they lower their guards.”
“No unilateral ceasefire from us, we will just lie low,” he said.
On Christmas Day, the BIFF killed nine civilians in a series of offensives against farming villages in the Maguindanao-Sultan Kudarat borders and in a village in North Cotabato. Five BIFF rebels were also killed.
Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division chief, condemned the attacks.
“The 6th ID condemns the treacherous act of the lawless group, BIFF and will not allow them to continue thriving within Central Mindanao,” he said.
He also expressed deepest sympathy to the family of the victims of the lawless group.
In November, Pangilinan ordered all units to be extra vigilant and to ensure that the respective communities within their jurisdiction would be able to celebrate the season peacefully and smoothly.
“Despite our alertness on the situation, we still need the help and the cooperation of the community in order to pre-empt the plans of the lawless group,” Pangilinan said.
Mama refused to guarantee that the BIFF would not launch any offensive on New Year’s Eve or after the New Year revelry.
“Right now, we will sleep soundly because the Army is on alert,” he said, adding the BIFF armed struggle would stick to its guerilla-style warfare. SFM
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