The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police should be tapped to secure power transmission lines in Mindanao, Rico Quicho, spokesman on political affairs of Vice President Jejomar Binay, said on Friday as he laid out steps that Binay believed would prevent more bombings of towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
The Vice President “believes the military and police should first be mobilized. Let them secure, round the clock if needed, the NGCP transmission lines and power facilities to avoid bombing of these infrastructure,” according to Quicho.
“Second, take a more proactive legal action against the people preventing the repair of these lines and equipment,” he added, quoting Binay.
Moreover, Quicho said, right-of-way issues must also be properly addressed.
“If there are valid claims to be paid, then pay them. Otherwise, institute legal action to ensure that the government is able to exercise its eminent domain powers and obtain right-of-way,” he added.
“We cannot just appeal for cooperation. The government must take the bull by its horns and act on the problem,” the spokesman said.
NGCP previously warned that the Mindanao grid may collapse because of continued refusal of landowners to allow entry to linemen who will repair toppled transmission towers.
Binay unveiled earlier his energy platform for Mindanao that aims to guarantee long-term energy supply and security.
He laid the groundwork for reforms in the energy sector based on five pillars: (1) Real assessment of demand and supply; (2) Achieve energy self-sufficiency through utilization of indigenous energy resources; (3) Create opportunities that will allow entry of more foreign and local investments in the energy industry; (4) Revisit statutory and policy framework on power and energy; and (5) Wider energy access through completion of electrification programs.
Binay vowed to appoint only competent people in the Energy department to avoid any power crisis.
He said government can no longer afford to have a passive approach in resolving power problems in Mindanao as he scored the Aquino administration for its “seeming inaction.”
“This is not the time to watch from the sidelines, fence-sit and wait for people to cooperate. The government must take charge and address the problem of Mindanao power head-on,” Binay added.
“Since 2010, this government has not taken any firm action in helping the people of Mindanao who have languished in darkness every summer because of the multiple conflicts and issues relating to the Mindanao power situation,” he said.
The Vice President rued that while Aquino and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla asked Congress for emergency powers last year when it seemed Luzon would experience power supply shortage during the summer months, the administration never sought similar legislative intervention for Mindanao.