By Saul Pa-a
MALVAR, BATANGAS — An official of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) South Luzon on Friday disclosed that right of way issues affecting their host facility sites and vital “electricity superhighways” were resolved through peaceful talks with local government units and stakeholders.
In a press conference at the LIMA Park Pavilion here, Jhemmylrut Carla Teng, NGCP lead specialist and South Luzon regional spokesperson, said power line site obstructions and right of way issues are resolved through cordial discussions with the private owners and the host local governments.
“Our NGCP team talks to landowners with tact and diplomacy,” Teng said, adding persuasive talks have to be conducted as proprietary rights and the right of way issues cropped up during the discussion on the topic “Power 101 and Transmission Project Promotions”.
NGCP officials also told media from Cavite, Laguna and Batangas that whenever necessary, they adhere to the state’s power of eminent domain — where private lands may be used for public use with just compensation.
They also welcomed the passage of Republic Act 11361 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 8, 2019, which ensures the continuous and uninterrupted transmission and distribution of electricity and the protection of the integrity and reliability of power lines, and providing penalties for violations for offenders.
Emmanuel Frago, senior engineer at NGCP’s operations office, said they need to secure the area and really need to talk with the stakeholders and the barangay officials in case of an obstruction at the site, like trimming or cutting of trees that breach the towers.
Frago disclosed their general counsel office met last Thursday at Dasmariñas City, where they tackled Republic Act 11361 or the Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act, particularly on the police powers pertaining to clearing obstructions on the power lines.
“We have to secure the permit from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) when it comes to pruning or trimming trees that breach into power lines at kailangan po gagawin yun para hindi po madisgrasya yung mga residente sa lugar (and we need to do this to avert accidents to residents in the area),” he said.
He said they have started to explain the provisions of the law to residents but they have to wait for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to ascertain those identified as hazardous areas and sites at risks.
Teng also maintained that even with Republic Act 11361, the private transmission firm has no police power to apprehend offenders breaching into the power line towers or right of way areas in the transmission lines.
“We have to go back to the usual practice of coordinating with the LGU executives on the situation transpiring at the host facility site. We still have to refer this to the local government,” she expounded.
Republic Act 11361 mandates the local government units to seek assistance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units on removing obstructions, if necessary.
According to Teng, they hire workers from the locality as their priority since this is part of NGCP’s commitment to the host site or community and extend corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects identified by the host LGUs.
Meanwhile, Engr. Zoren Andres of NGCP’s Transmission Line Planning Department said proposed sites for their transmission projects have to undergo extensive validation and studies to ensure these have no negative impacts on the environment or host sites are not prone to hazards and risks.
“The private power plants and our transmission facilities have to be subjected to comprehensive studies, because even NGCP could not proceed with our projects without approval from the Department of Energy (DOE),” Andres added.
NGCP also assured that protection of the environment is of utmost importance, even in clearing power facilities sites and power lines’ right of way from obstructions to avoid accidents. (PNA)