Officials of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) have ruled out arson and claimed that a lightning strike caused the tripping of the rectifier substation 5 at the LRT 2 Katipunan Station last week, resulting in a fire between the Katipunan and Anonas stations.
During the emergency meeting of the House transportation committee on Wednesday with government agencies involved in the incident, LRTA officials bared that lightning struck down the system of the LRT 2 on October 2, which led to a shutdown of its operations for a few minutes.
“There was a lightning strike last October 2 [at 9:30 a.m.], which resulted to tripping of power stations. We can confirm that it was the lightning strike [which affected] the system. It was confirmed because in the cable, we detected a ruptured portion,” LRTA Deputy Administrator Paul Chua told the panel led by Samar First District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento.
The House panel confirmed the occurrence of the lightning strike with the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration right away.
“There was a ruptured portion in the upper area of the cable before we did an initial assessment with the engineering department [on the fire incident]. In the damaged system along the walkway which the fire had hit, there was already an intense heat in that particular area,” Chua said, citing findings of their initial assessment last October 2.
He added that 189 items of the railway system were possibly damaged, but the LRTA could not complete its assessment on the affected rectifiers until officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) allow them to inspect the damaged area.
“We also have a problem on our part because we ourselves cannot enter the area. The BFP has the jurisdiction every time there’s fire,” said LRTA spokesman Hernando Cabrera.
Meanwhile, Sarmiento threatened to issue a subpoena to the transportation officials and cabinet secretaries who failed to appear during the hearing.
“This seems insulting to the lower House. When the Senate calls on the officials, you’re all there. When the House of Representatives calls, you’re not there. That’s not right. The House and the Senate are equal,” the lawmaker said.
Instead of the invited principal officials and cabinet secretaries, among the attendees were Undersecretary for Railways John Batan and Undersecretary for Road Transport Mark de Leon of the Department of Transportation, board member Roland Corpuz of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Undersecretary Epimaco Densing 3rd of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Traffic Discipline Office Director
Roy Taguinod of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Chua, Cabrera and Engineer Federico Canar of the LRTA.
Sarmiento appealed to the officials to give a sense of urgency in addressing the traffic crisis.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Monday said that Metro Manila is experiencing a mass transport crisis because the three rail systems, particularly the LRT 1, LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 suffered glitches over the past week.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, who was also present in the panel, said it was not their intention to put the blame on the government, but to address the need for a comprehensive and a long-term plan on the traffic crisis.
Last Thursday’s fire caused the LRTA to suspend operations in its three stations — Santolan, Katipunan and Anonas — for nine months.
Partial operations resumed on Tuesday.