Meralco to remove illegal wires in utility poles

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In early August, multiple poles collapsed in Binondo, injuring at least three people and damaging several vehicles.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is stepping up efforts to combat urban blight by removing illegal lines connected to its utility poles and fixing low-hanging wires that endanger public safety.

"Yung mga facilities natin, kung kailangan palitan ay papalitan natin. Kung kailangan tanggalin yung mga linya na hindi dapat nandoon ay tatanggalin," Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco's vice president and head of corporate communications, told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon on Thursday.

[Translation: If our facilities need to be replaced, we will replace them. If it is necessary to remove the lines that do not belong there, they will be removed.]

"Unfortunately in the process, maaapektuhan ang serbisyo pero wala tayo magagawa [services will be affected but there is nothing we can do]," he explained. "We have to implement the policy. We have to ensure public safety."

The initiative is a part of Meralco's Urban Blight Campaign, which aims to upgrade its electrical facilities in the wake of widespread illegal connections brought on by difficulties in monitoring during the pandemic, according to Zaldarriaga.

He said the third-party partners, such as telecommunication firms and cable television providers, should obtain permits from Meralco and local government units before attaching their lines to utility poles.

In early August, multiple poles collapsed in Binondo, injuring at least three people and damaging several vehicles. 

Zaldarriaga said the incident could have resulted from heavy attachments to the utility poles as he stressed that Meralco continues to monitor the case.

"Hindi lang sa Binondo kundi sa maraming lugar na itong mga attachments na ito ay walang pahintulot [Not only in Binondo but in many places where attachments are unauthorized]," he said. "We're addressing this now to prevent similar incidents in the future."

Zaldarriaga called on the public to report low-hanging wires, and overloaded or leaning utility poles to Meralco through its 24/7 hotline at 16211.