‘Mindanao poll failure looms amid power tower bombings’
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - As another power transmission tower was bombed yesterday, a lawmaker warned of a failure of elections in Mindanao if the attacks continue.

“If these criminal activities are not stopped, our power supply will be severely affected during the election period,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said during the hearing of the House energy committee on Mindanao power supply.

“If we do not have enough power, classrooms and polling precincts will be in the dark. The automated voting machines will not work. We will not have a credible election. We might have a failure of election,” Rodriguez said.

He lamented that the police and military have failed to stop the bombing of transmission towers.

“They are sleeping on the job. This is a criminal offense. It has been happening for the past year. So far, 18 towers have been damaged, destroyed or disabled,” Rodriguez said.

Lanao tower bombed

Another transmission tower was bombed in Lanao del Sur yesterday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said.

Tower 50 of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kiloVolt line in Barangay Pantar in Dimayon Bubong town was the second transmission facility bombed this year.

“Fortunately the tower did not topple. Restoration of Tower 50 will commence as soon as the area is secured,” the NGCP said.

The NGCP said the Agus 2-Kibawe line has yet to be restored since the bombing of Tower 25 on Dec. 24. Linemen were denied access by landowners who  demand payment from the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) for their decades-old claim.

Stop bombings

Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House energy committee chairman, urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop the bombings.

“Otherwise more lines would be sabotaged and power supply would be affected. Inadequate supply will threaten our electoral process in May,” Umali said.

Resolution 2603, filed by Rodriguez and his brother Maximo of the party-list group Abante Mindanao, prompted the House energy committee hearing.

In their resolution, the Rodriguez brothers said Mindanao is currently experiencing power outages of four to eight hours a day.

The lawmakers said it is the responsibility of the AFP and PNP to prevent lawless elements from bombing power transmission facilities. No bomber has been identified, much less arrested, they added.

Enhanced security

Malacañang has assured the public of tighter security to protect vital installations, including transmission towers. 

“The members of the interagency task force led by the DOE (Department of Energy) are determining how they can further enhance security measures to reduce if not totally prevent these incidents,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told radio station dzRB on Sunday.

President Aquino ordered the creation of the task force early this month to address the bombings.  

The NGCP said concerned landowners and TransCo should come up with a settlement to begin repairs of toppled towers as soon as possible.

“The incoming 600 megawatts of generation capacity from new power plants will not be sufficient to relieve Mindanao of its energy problems unless the bombing of transmission facilities is stopped. Sufficient supply and strong transmission are both integral to a stable power situation,” the grid operator said.

The public has been advised to report suspicious activities near NGCP facilities by sending a text message to 0917-8791077. – With Danessa Rivera, Alexis Romero

ABANTE MINDANAO ACIRC AGUS ALEXIS ROMERO ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BARANGAY PANTAR DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY MINDANAO POWER STRONG TRANSMISSION
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