Construction work along a portion of the new Matanao-General Santos 138-kiloVolt transmission line in Malungon, Sarangani was stalled on 3 March 2016, because of an uncooperative landowner.
Mr. Edmundo Cejar, the owner of the property in question, illegally stopped NGCP from continuing the project, insisting that the property should be evaluated first for just compensation for the damages caused by the project. This despite Mr. Cejar’s acceptance of NGCP’s partial payment of almost half a million pesos (in the form of a provisional deposit with the court), and the clear wording of the writ of possession issued by RTC of Sarangani Branch 23, which allows NGCP “to enter and place in possession and acquire an easement of right-of-way” over the property of the Cejars to construct Matanao-General Santos 138kV line.
NGCP was already implementing the project, which will strengthen the reliability of the Mindanao grid, when Mr. Cejar unlawfully ordered the stoppage of construction, with the aid of the Chief of Police of Malungon.
“These developments are disheartening. Mr. Cejar already accepted NGCP’s provisional deposit, which is considered partial payment for the property. By participating in the expropriation proceedings, and accepting partial payment, Mr. Cejar submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court, and its processes. The court already issued the Writ of Possession, which authorizes us to continue with the transmission project, pending the determination of just compensation,” explained NGCP. “Mr. Cejar is bound by the lawful issuance of the court. He cannot obey court procedures when accepting payment, and then unilaterally change his mind and defy the court whenever it suits him,” stressed NGCP.
“As transmission concessionaire, NGCP was granted the right of eminent domain under our congressional franchise. This is in recognition of the public service nature of the transmission business,” the company emphasized. “This grants the holder the right to take property while just compensation is being discussed. This is to prevent undue delays in the implementation of national development projects. Mr. Cejar, by his unlawful defiance, defeats this very purpose,” the company said.
NGCP says that the project construction will still push through as scheduled.
“Crucial transmission projects of national relevance cannot be stymied by the acts of those who do not respect the rule of law. A lawful Writ of Possession was issued, and it must be respected, regardless of who it is being implemented against,” stated the company. “If the landowner has concerns, he should go through the proper legal processes, and not bully his way into resisting lawful orders of the court. We just cannot tolerate lawlessness,” said NGCP.
The Matanao-General Santos 138-kiloVolt transmission project spans 72.60 kilometer and is being completed in compliance with the N-1 contingency requirement of the Philippine Grid Code. N-1 contingency is the ability of the grid to withstand the loss of a major system component with minimal disruption in the system.
NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations, and related assets. The consortium, which holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corporation led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) as technical partner.