• Power company seeks help to solve bombings

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    The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) sought the immediate help of all stakeholders especially the national government regarding the spate of bombings and right-of-way (ROW) issues that has hindered the transmission company to give optimum service in Mindanao particularly in the coming elections this May.

    “NGCP together with other members of the energy family can only do so much, but there are things that are beyond our control like terrorist attacks and exorbitant demands from land owners,” Cynthia Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson and adviser for external affairs, said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

    “We are trying our best to mitigate this but there are some things that cannot be handled by NGCP alone. We are calling the citizens of Mindanao for help,” she said.

    The NGCP operates a total 20,000 kilometers of transmission lines and 27,726 mega-volt amperes of substation capacity from Luzon to Mindanao.

    The transmission company has raised an alarm over problems in negotiations with 13 out of 29 claimants for clearing of the Agus 2 Kibawe line.

    Alabanza explained that Agus Balo-i line is crucial. She said lines emanating from the Balo-i station in Lanao del Norte are the most critical since the station supplies about a quarter of the Mindanao grid’s requirements. These lines traverse Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Surigao del Sur.

    “We have cleared about half of the claimants but we still have several land owners who remained uncooperative. They have refused to soften their stands. We had requested support from the Department of Energy, Department of Interior and Local Government and Comelec but it is moving more slowly than we expected,” she said.

    “There were 29 identified claimants and out of that we’ve settled 16. We are hoping that out of the 13 we can settle 7, but we are worried with the other 6 claimants,” Alabanza lamented.

    As an example, she cited one of the claimant’s demand, where the valuation was placed at P864,000 but the demand was P6 million.

    “NGCP has to be very prudent in its operation so we cannot just give in to whimsical demands,” she added.

    “This affects supply in Mindanao. It’s a big line and it connects two plants,” she said.

    “The reserve for Mindanao is very low. If you stand to lose 50 to 70 MW from these two plants, it would be a significant loss. Around 80 MW will be lost from Agus 1 and 2,” Alabanza said.

    “When we go and implement our clearing strategy, we are hoping that there will be understanding from the personalities. NGCP has always been willing and ready to ensure transmission facilities are operating at their optimum. We are still exhausting all efforts to settle,” Alabanza said.

    Last week, two NGCP towers in North Cotabato were bombed and severely damaged.

    Alabanza said that NGCP has around 7,000 structures in Mindanao and even if we place one soldier per structure, it would be difficult to secure the infrastructures.

    According to NGCP no demands were received, and up to now motives of the bombing are not known. Last year 19 towers were targeted, and four in 2016.

    Alabanza said that a Comelec resolution deputized a lot of government offices but NGCP does not want to resort to any actions without having exhausted the least hostile means possible.

    “We have less than two weeks to go so NGCP must step up and clear those lines. We gave a deadline last week but if they continue to be uncooperative then we will have to seek the help of the AFP and PNP,” she added.

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