Electric posts in the middle of roads

The author attends the signing ceremony of the DPWH-DOE Joint Circular with DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi (sitting) and (standing, L-R) Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, Chairman of Committee on Transportation in the House of Representatives (HOR) and Rep. Celso Lobregat, HOR Chairman of Committee on Public Works.

Electric posts in the middle of roads

DRIVEN - Atty. Karen V. Jimeno (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2017 - 4:00pm

Driving can be not only more fun, but also more challenging in the Philippines. Not only is traffic congested in Metro Manila, but there are also roads all over the Philippines with electricity posts right smack in the middle as if they were obstacle courses. 

The first time I saw a road with electric posts lining up its middle lane, I was in shock and disbelief. I could not comprehend how a road could be planned and constructed without the basic logic of removing the electric posts that stand in its way.

It turns out that a gap in regulations was the root cause of the problem.

In 2013, Republic Act No. 10531 was passed into law. Under RA10531 (also called the National Electrification Administration Reform Act of 2013), Electric Cooperatives must be properly compensated in the event their utilities are removed and/or relocated because of government infrastructure projects. 

Thereafter, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA10531. The IRR mandated the DOE and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to issue a Joint Circular to determine the proper compensation for Electric Cooperatives when their transmission lines and facilities are affected by a government project. 

The Joint Circular was required to be issued within 180 days from the effectivity of the IRR. However, no Joint Circular was issued by the DOE and DPWH from 2013 to 2017. The absence of this Joint Circular could not be underestimated. It caused the proliferation of widened or newly built roads which had electricity facilities and/or electric posts in the middle of their lanes.

Without regulatory guidelines on how to determine the valuation or compensation for electric facilities, such facilities were not removed despite the construction of roads, bridges or other infrastructure projects.

Last Monday, July 10, or four years since RA10531 was enacted, the DOE and DPWH finally issued a Joint Circular which provides guidelines on the determination of compensation for Electric Cooperatives when their facilities are affected by government infrastructure projects. 

Section 5 of the Joint Circular provides a detailed formula for computing the amount of compensation to be paid to Electric Cooperatives. 

In the event of a dispute as to the amount, the Joint Circular also outlines the procedure for depositing part of the amount with the National Electrification Administration to prevent delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects. The Joint Circular also penalizes Electric Cooperatives if they delay or refuse to remove/relocate their electric facilities. 

With this development, Philippine roads should eventually be cleared of electric posts or electric facilities that obstruct lanes or cause hazard to motorists. There should no longer be any excuse for not removing these facilities now that all the required regulations are in place.




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