A contractor fixes a line in Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, June 1, 2021. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

OVERHEAD UTILITY LINES in Metro Manila may soon be moved underground, according to a proposal by the Department of Public Works and Highways – National Capital Region (DPWH-NCR) office.

DPWH-NCR Regional Director Nomer Abel P. Canlas told BusinessWorld that the office submitted to the DPWH Central Office a proposal for a feasibility study on making all electricity and communication lines underground in the capital region.

In an interview last Friday, Mr. Canlas said they are proposing to start the project along major roads such as Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Radial Road 10 (R-10), and Circumferential Road 3 (C-3).

“One of our visions for the NCR is to put all lines underground,” he said, citing safety, convenience, and aesthetics.

“Let’s look beyond 2022, and we may see more posts and cables, which are unsightly. It would be a lot nicer if we put them underground,” he added.

Apart from the aesthetic advantages, underground cables also help avoid accidents like electrocution.

“Utility companies will no longer worry about acquiring road right-of-way for their utility posts,” Mr. Canlas noted. 

Various groups recently urged the government to consider underground cables as part of its disaster resiliency strategy to prevent massive blackouts during calamities like Typhoon Odette.

Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette R. Herrera-Dy filed House Bill 5845 which proposed to require companies that use wires, including those that supply power, internet services, telephone, cables to the public, to relocate their wires underground within 10 years of its implementation. 

Filed in 2019, the bill, also known as the “Nationwide Underground Cable System Act,” is still pending with the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology.

Utility service providers have said they are willing to shift to an underground cable system, but this would require government subsidies and proper planning on the part of government officials.