ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected rebels bombed another transmission tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in a fresh attack aimed at crippling the Mindanao power grid.
The attack late on Thursday targeted Tower No. 6 of the Kabacan-Sultan Kudarat 138 kilovolt line in Aleosan town, North Cotabato. Two improvised explosives were detonated by the suspected rebels, but failed to topple the steel tower, although the blast seriously damaged the transmission facility.
The NGCP remains helpless in detecting and prevent the bombings. Its transmission towers have been attacked since last year.
“The bombing only serve to increase the burden of the public that suffer from the service interruptions when the towers are bombed,” the grid operator said, appealing anew to the military and police to help guard the towers.
The military said the NGCP has its own people to guard its towers.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the latest bombing, but the attack occurred just weeks after NGCP proposed to “criminalize the planting of tress and other activities beneath transmission lines.”
Last December a series of bombing attacks toppled two NGCP towers in Lanao del Sur and in North Cotabato which resulted in power rationing and prompted the company to issue red alert over the affected areas.
It was preceded by the bombing of another tower in Aleosan, North Cotabato—that aggravated the power supply situation in the region.
NGCP also blamed owners of private lands where the towers have been erected and accused them of preventing NGCP personnel to repair the damaged pylons.
Landowners have blocked NGCP’s technical team from entering the site unless payment claims for the use of their property are settled by the government.
The grid operator has teamed up with local governments in Mindanao to solve the right-of-way violations in the region by lobbying for the passage of a provincial ordinance to back up its proposals.
It said the intentional planting of trees under the pylons adversely affected power transmission to the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Zamboanga City.
“Row violations, along with bombing attacks, have become the significant problems for NGCP in Mindanao. It will be very difficult for us to deliver the available power supply to distribution utilities if we continue to encounter these problems,” it said.
The provinces are known lairs of several rebel groups – Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – and jihadists actively operating in the region.
NGCP holds a 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network.