NGCP urged to form security force for power pylons in North Cotabato
KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato – North Cotabato police authorities urged the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to implement tighter security for its power distribution towers following yet another attempt to topple a steel pylon in the province on Wednesday.
Supt. Bernard Tayong, spokesperson of the North Cotabato police office, said the NGCP management could tap the services of security forces to guard power distribution towers to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
Tayong said that on Wednesday, unidentified armed men blasted anew Tower No. 63 in Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan town – the same tower that was also bombed on January 14.
As in the previous attempt, he said the explosion failed to topple the steel tower although it tilted on its side. The bombing also caused power outages in North Cotabato and in Maguindanao as wires had been cut, he said.
Tayong said the armed men strapped improvised explosive devices on the foundations of the tower and set them off around12:10 a.m.
Apparently, only one of the IEDs went off and failed to topple the pylon. Another IED was recovered still strapped to two more posts of the structure, he said.
“It was the village chair who reported to the Aleosan PNP that a loud explosion transpired in the area where the NGCP tower is located,” Tayong said.
At least 16 NGCP towers have been bombed in North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur in 2015, according to Melfrance Capulong, the NGCP spokesperson for Mindanao.
Last month, the NGCP said it was studying a proposal for the formation of an armed auxiliary unit to protect its transmission lines and pylons from sabotage attacks.
The proposal came out anew during consultation-meeting conducted by the House energy committee in Cagayan de Oro City, which various stakeholders attended.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, energy committee co-chair, has discussed the possibility of establishing more armed auxiliary units that would guard the power facilities – particularly in areas where transmission towers had been destroyed or are under threat of being bombed.
Maj. Gen. Demy Tejares, deputy commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, welcomed the idea as the military could not possibly guard all NGCP towers in Mindanao.
Cynthia Alabanza, the NGCP spokesperson, said the NGCP has been considering the formation of special armed auxiliary units lately and it was not the first time the company thought of it.
“That (proposal) is being considered by the NGCP. We are studying it, making sure that everything is above board and everything is with legal basis,” Alabanza told reporters.
During the consultation, a people’s organization also asked the House energy committee – chaired by Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali – to craft a legislation that would deter acts of sabotage against power distribution facilities.
In the meantime, the NGCP urged consumers to help protect the towers as any sabotage attacks would have adverse effects on the power situation.
Luwalhati Antonio, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), agreed by saying that “(t)he recent attacks on towers No. 20 and 25 created a dent in the power supply of Mindanao, which isolated the Agus 1 and 2 hydropower plants that produce about 260 megawatts (MW).”
Antonino said the toppled towers had not been repaired yet due to another problem – the issues of land ownership.
“The isolation of the hydropower plants has also caused rotational power interruption in different franchise areas in Mindanao. In addition to the attacks, issues on the ROWs and the hesitance of the land owners to cooperate are seen to further aggravate the problem,” she said.
In total, five lines remained inoperative due to the unwillingness of landowners to cooperate and the growing vegetation under the lines, she said, identifying them as the Baloi-Agus 2 138 kV lines 1 and 2; the Baloi-Agus 6 69 kV line; and the Kibawe-Agus 2 138 kV lines 1 and 2. (With reports from Edwin Fernandez and Jigger Jerusalem, Inquirer Mindanao) SFM
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