1,000 phone lines cut off by cable thieves in Davao

Most of the phone lines were restored within 24 hours but the cable thieves are still at large and would most likely strike again, Celso Sison, manager of PLDT's asset protection division told reporters Monday.

PLDT announced 1,565 lines, including voice and data lines, were affected but clarified some lines were disconnected twice. PLDT has 60,000 subscribers in the city.

Sison announced that for this month alone, a total of 10 pilferage incidents have been recorded from August 9 to 23 were reported, bringing to 4,460 the total affected lines from January. The thieves reportedly cut off the cable wires from the posts using a saw.

The pilferage has affected both business and residential subscribers in the area, Sison said. He estimated economic loses at P1.8 million for August alone.

Sison said cable pilferage in Davao is an organized work but not as prevalent compared to Manila, Negros, and Cebu.

Since January, PLDT reported a total of 1,367 meters of copper wire cables stolen, said Jose Arenas, team leader of  PLDT's Visayas-Mindanao area.  

Sison said they have coordinated with the police in the case but investigation is still ongoing.  .

A four-person team has been closely investigating the pilferage cases, Police Inspector Elizabeth Paltinca of the Toril Police station told MindaNews in a telephone interview Monday.

Sison said while PLDT is duty-bound to restore connection right away, time will come that they may not be able to move fast if stocks of the cable wires run out. The cable wires are sourced from Manila.

In June, PLDT signed a memorandum of agreement with SMART, GLOBE, Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) other communication firms for close monitoring of cables and other facilities.

Then, there was a rise in cases of pilferage of facilities, cables and equipment which disrupted the delivery of services of telecommunications and power companies.

Arenas told MindaNews not all cable wires of PLDT have copper. Copper sells for at least P300 per kilo in the scrap market. He said some wires may be of no value and are hazardous to the health of the thieves because they contain fiber optics. They suspect that thieves operate past midnight.

Disposal of fiber optics needs clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he said.

Sison told reporters one of the obstacles they face in the filing of cases against cable thieves is that copper wires in their possession bear no corporate markings.

PLDT has called on the public to help report suspicious people in the barangays through the 164 hotline both via PLDT or SMART mobile phone. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)