Task force formed to address attacks on transmission towers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 February) — Government has formed the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Security of Energy Facilities to address the series of attacks on transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and right-of-way claims in Mindanao.

In a press conference on Thursday, Energy secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada said Mindanao’s power problem is now more of transmission than supply due to attacks on NGCP towers.

She said the attacks and ROW issues are now becoming a national interest because it affects the growth of the country in general.

“Mindanao is a major part of the country. It pulls up the growth of the Philippines, so there should be power to fuel the development,” she said.

The secretary said the task force brings more focus to how government should respond [to the attacks] with the May 9 elections and the continuing El Nino phenomenon.

“There is nothing new in what we do. What this task force does is coordination, more synergy to our efforts,” she said,

Members of the task force included DOE, National Transmission Corp., NGCP, Mindanao Development Authority, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Power Corporation, Department of Justice, and Land Registration Authority.

Monsada said different task groups will focus on the transmission lines of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex, security, legal issues, and information campaign.

She said among the major concerns are the issues namely, unpaid claimants and the vegetation, and the bombings.

“But these claimants cannot be paid outrightly because they have to follow a process, which involves the documentation that they own the property where the towers stood,” she added.

The task force met for the first time at the MinDA office in Davao City on Thursday to plan on how they can resolve the transmission issues.

“Next week. we will be reporting to the president regarding our outputs,” Monsada said.

In 2015, 16 towers were bombed, nine of which were toppled.

In December 2015 alone, seven towers were bombed: Towers 25, 19, 95, 68, 168, and 153.
Last month, two towers – 50 and 63 – were attacked.

Asked how much the power issue has been affecting the business community in the island, Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente Lao said “it is very difficult to quantify the costs when there are brownouts all over the grid.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)