The Department of Energy (DOE) has condemned the New People’s Army’s (NPA) attack on the Pulanai Hydroelectric Power Plant in Bukidnon on Saturday.
“This attack is totally unwarranted considering that it is not a military installation, but a development project that seeks to contribute to uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the people,” energy secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.
The attack was done despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s plea for rebels to stay away from power plants and to stop demanding revolutionary taxes from the companies that operate in the region.
The president was present for the plant’s groundbreaking. Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and Repower Energy Development Corp. are the joint developers of the project.
Cusi said the agency has formed an inter-agency task force to help the developers of the 10.6-megawatt (MW) hydropower plant.
“An Inter-Agency Task Force in Securing Energy Facilities is being activated composed of the DOE, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Transmission Corporation (TransCo), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the National Power Corp. (Napocor) with the assistance of the DOE Mindanao Field Office,” he said.
He added that the attack will stall the construction timeline of the plant and waste the efforts done to improve the quality of life in Bukidnon.
“We are aiming to facilitate the development of all alternative and indigenous energy supply for the future of Mindanaoans. We have long been wanting our kababayans living there to feel the presence of progress, yet these people are stealing that chance from them,” Cusi said.
The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division said 15 fully armed NPA fighters entered the plant’s site, confiscated the workers’ cellphones, and fired gunshots after planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
A team from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal of the 8th Infantry Battalion was sent to recover the IEDs.
“The National Democratic Front has been urging the Duterte Administration to resume the peace talks but NPA attacks on a development project such as this do not inspire confidence that they are sincere in returning to the negotiating table,” Cusi said.