Power-line obstruction bill could still pass before Congress closes

Font Size

power lines

A BILL penalizing the construction of structures that interfere with power transmission still has a chance to pass before the 17th Congress before it adjourns on June 7, the bill’s sponsor said.

House Bill No. 6276, or the “Anti-Power Line Disturbance Act,” was approved on third reading on Sept. 25, 2017; while Senate Bill No. 2098, or the “Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act,” was approved on second reading without amendments on Feb. 4, 2019.

House Energy Committee Vice chair Carlos Roman L. Uybarreta of 1-Care partylist said in a phone message Saturday that when session resumes, “the Senate will approve it on third reading; then the (bicameral conference committee) will follow immediately thereafter.”

Congress is currently on a Feb. 9-May 19 break to make way for the 2019 midterm polls on May 13. It will resume session on May 20 and will officially conclude the 17th Congress on June 7. Both chambers have three weeks or nine session days to work on remaining legislative measures.

Mr. Uybarreta, who sponsored the bill, is among the representatives designated by the House to serve on the Bicameral Conference Committee.

The bills set penalties for builders of of power line obstructions and dangerous structures, planters of tall growing plants and those who conduct hazardous activities within the right-of-way corridors of power lines.

Both versions also propose to prohibit any person, natural or juridical, to refuse entry to a property for the repair of power lines or restoration of power, among others.

It will also give transmission companies, distribution utilities or concerned operators to conduct inspection of power lines, remove, dismantle or even demolish buildings or any structure considered as dangerous.

If enacted, it will mandate the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide assistance to the National Transmission Corporation, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and other electric cooperatives.

Under the House Bill, violators of the bill may be punished with arresto menor or imprisonment of up to 30 days, or fined with P20,000 for the first offense; arresto mayor or imprisonment of 1-6 months or, fined with P50,000 for the second; and prision correccional or imprisonment of six months to six years, or fined with P100,000 for the third.

The Senate, meanwhile, proposed stiffer penalties, subjecting violators to arresto mayor or a P50,000 fine for the first offense; Prision correccional or a P100,000 fine for the second; and prision mayor or 6-12 years of imprisonment, or a P200,000 fine for the third. — Charmaine A. Tadalan