The Department of Energy (DOE) strongly condemned the attack launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) on a hydropower plant project in Barangay Lumbayao, Valencia City in Bukidnon last Saturday.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said, “This attack is totally unwarranted considering that it is not a military installation but a development project that seeks to contribute to uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the people. This attack will not only stall the hydro project’s construction timeline, it will also set back efforts to improve the quality of life of the people of Bukidnon.
“We are aiming to facilitate the development of all alternative and indigenous energy supply for the future of Mindanaoans. We have long been wanting our [fellow Filipinos]living there to feel the presence of progress, yet these people are stealing that chance from them,” Cusi added.
“An Inter-Agency Task Force in Securing Energy Facilities is being activated composed of the DOE, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Transmission Corporation (TransCo), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the National Power Corporation (NPC) with the assistance of the DOE Mindanao Field Office to ensure the completion of the project despite the attack,” the Energy chief said.
“The National Democratic Front [NDF] has been urging the Duterte administration to resume the peace talks but
the NPA attack on a development project such as this does not inspire confidence that they are sincere about returning to the negotiating table,|” he added.
The NDF is an umbrella group that lists the NPA as a member.
According to reports, the 10.6 megawatt Pulanai Hydroelectric Power Plant project of partners Repower Energy Development Corp. and Manila Electric Co. was attacked by 20 NPA rebels on February 25.
This run-off-river hydropower project will utilize the Pulanai River in Bukidnon with target commissioning date for the first half of 2019.
The plant broke ground on December 9 with President Rodrigo Duterte gracing the event.
“We assure the public that the DOE will ensure energy security and strive to classify energy projects as projects of national significance to protect these development initiatives for the welfare of our people,” Cusi said.