Bombings continue in Mindanao

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page - Examiner) (Mindanao

MAGUINDANAO – The bombings of power pylons continu in southern Philippines despite a supposedly tight security being imposed by the military on the Mindanao grid.

Just last week, another steel pylon was bombed the second attack in a span of four days - in the restive southern Philippine region of Mindanao where security forces are battling separatist insurgents.

The privately-owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) operates dozens of power pylons in Mindanao and most of the attacks - blamed on various rebel groups and extortionists – occurred in the Muslim autonomous region and nearby provinces.

Elizabeth Ladaga, NGCP’s spokeswoman, said the blast hit the Tower 50 of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138 kilovolt line in Lanao del Sur’s Dimayon Bubong town on Monday. She said the repair of the tower would start soon. “Restoration of Tower 50 will commence as soon as the area is secured,” she told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Last month, Tower 25 also of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138 kilovolt line in Ramain town in Lanao del Norte province was also toppled by a bomb explosion and since then remains unrepaired.

On January 14, a power pylon of the Kabacan-Sultan Kudarat 138 kilovolt line was also bombed in Aleosan town in North Cotabato province. Two improvised explosives had been detonated by suspected rebels, but they failed to topple the steel tower, although the blast seriously damaged the transmission facility, but eventually repaired recently.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the latest bombing, but the region is a known lair of several rebel groups - the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and jihadists.

It was unknown why NGCP failed to detect or stop the latest bombing despite repeated attacks since last year, but it appealed to the military to protect the towers. The 6th Infantry Division said NGCP has its own personnel guarding the steel pylons.

NGCP also repeatedly blamed owners of private lands where the towers are located and accusing them of preventing their personnel to repair bombed power pylons. The NGCP proposed to “criminalize the planting of trees and other activities beneath transmission lines.”

NGCP said it has teamed up with local governments in Mindanao to solve the escalating rightof-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 transmission lines adversely affects power delivery to the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City, and the rest of the grid.

Land owners have repeatedly rejected NGCP’s demand unless it pays them for the use of their estate. NGCP holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country's power transmission network.

One of NGCP power pylons in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

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