Burning is ‘new modus’ vs transmission facilities

by Myrna Velasco – January 25, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

Anarchic individuals may have gotten tired of bombing transmission towers as they have not been getting the exorbitant amount they have been demanding on right-of-way (ROW) concerns, hence, their next scheme had been burning of transmission poles.

Transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has reported such kind of incident to the media over the weekend, claiming that this led to yet another tripping of transmission line in Mindanao grid.

The company has qualified that based on their initial findings, the attack on its transmission facility in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao exhibited “sabotage act.”

“NGCP’s Sultan Kudarat substation-Cotabato City-Datu Saudi Ampatuan 69-kilovolt line tripped on January 22 (Friday) because of a burned transmission pole in Salimbao, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao,” it said.

Power in the affected areas had been restored on Saturday morning, according to NGCP’s advisory to the media. The company said it completed the repairs “with the installation of a modified lightweight tower.”

The continued attack on the transmission facilities are still believed to be linked to the ROW problems of which settlements of claims have been turning to be a tedious process not only for NGCP, but also for the government.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada previously noted that there have been failed negotiations primarily for the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) due to claims that cannot be validated.

“We have been asking for records, but the belief is: most of their claims have already been settled,” she stressed.

Monsada stressed “unfortunately, what they’re saying is, this is another generation of owners so they can no longer find the documents that could rightly back their demands for payment or compensation in the properties they are claiming.”

She said, “they have to take note that it will be the government (via the National Transmission Corporation) that will pay for the settlement…so before the government pays, we ask: where are your documents?”

The energy chief qualified “what we are trying to establish here: are their claims even valid? Is the amount they’re asking reasonable?”

Monsada reckoned that zonal valuation has been one of the biggest hurdles in their negotiation with claimants.

For instance, she cited that in the extreme ROW cases of NGCP, the difference in zonal valuation always emerged as the “deal-breaker,” thus, access issues to the properties traversed by transmission facilities tended difficult.

“The initial indication – they (landowners) have been asking for exorbitant amount … a lot more expensive than zonal value, that’s why it should be our point of negotiation,” the energy chief said.

Some parties, she added, have been proffering additional claims – such as rentals – thus, causing their settlement demand to swell.