By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – An explosion believed originating from a landmine erupted at one of the 138-KV transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Buadiposo-Buntong town in Lanao del Sur on September 21, injuring nine people.
A report attributed to Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, head of the Marawi City-based 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the blast did not cause severe damage on the transmission tower, but injured seven soldiers and two linemen.
Two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force base in Cagayan de Oro City and another chopper from NGCP were deployed to extricate the wounded casualties, according to the report.
The NGCP in a statement said the explosion occurred about 7a.m. in a forested area in Buadiposo-Buntong town while their personnel and military escorts were conducting an inspection of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138KV lines 1 and 2, which tripped last September 22 and 3, respectively.
Ostensibly seeking community cohesive watch, the NGCP said “any incident meant to interrupt the delivery of power transmission services, only serve to increase the burden of the public, which must suffer through power interruptions when lines or towers are affected.”
Any attempt to disturb line clearing activities violates the provisions under R.A. 11361 or the Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act, and is punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment or fines up to P200,000, or both, NGCP warned.
Gen. Cuerpo said the NGCP linemen, escorted by a security detail of seven Army soldiers, walked for two days to the 138-KV transmission tower in the mountains in Buadiposo-Buntong town.
An initial report indicated that one of the soldiers stepped on a pressure-activated landmine planted on the base of the transmission tower, and further investigation was underway to ascertain who was responsible for the landmine, he said.
The military discounted the possibility of involvement in the blast by communist rebels or members of the Dawlah Islamiya terror group.
“Usually the bomb is attached (by organized groups) to the tower and exploded to topple it down. This is different,” Gen. Cuerpo said in the report.
The NGCP said its transmission towers in secluded areas were usually subjects of numerous attacks in the past and those responsible were mostly disgruntled landowners.
It appealed to civilian authorities, local community leaders and the public “to help identify the perpetrators, and to negotiate with uncooperative landowners, to prevent longer power interruptions.”
It provided NGCP hotlines such 0917-8476427 or 0918-8476427 for public use in conveying information.
Meanwhile, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong in a statement on Social media said he is deeply alarmed of the landmine explosion that has wounded nine soldiers and NGCP linemen.
He said he instructed the LGU of Buadiposo Buntong and appealed to the town residents to help in the investigation of this merciless incident. (AGM)