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For uninterrupted supply during disasters, Herrera bats for underground power, telco system

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Deputy Majority Floor Leader Bernadette Herrera has urged the national government to adapt the underground cable system to ensure uninterrupted telecommunication and power supplies during disasters.

Herrera explained that one of the immediate and biggest impacts of natural calamities such as the recent eruption of the Taal Volcano is the interruption to power and communications.

“In order for the affected communities to better cope with the disaster and recover faster, the continuous supply of power is critical,” said Herrera

Herrera noted that Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu City, and Baguio City have taken the first steps toward placing their utility cables underground but Metro Manila and surrounding highly-urbanized areas seems to have not realized they are being left behind by more progressive governance elsewhere.

The party-list lawmaker from Bagong Henerasyon recently file House Bill 5845 which proposes a nationwide underground cable system.

According to Herrera, areas devastated by the eruption of Taal Volcano now “have more reason to bury those cables underground.”

“They need not wait for the national government to enact a law. They simply have to conduct feasibility studies and enact local ordinances, and look for funding outside of their annual budgets,” said Herrera.

“The cities can bid out or invite private investors to lay the cables underground. In biddings, they would use LGU-generated funds. If they invite private investors, investors’ funds would be used,” he added

Under HB 5845, those companies that are engaged in the business of telephone, cable, internet service, and power supply to the public are mandated “relocate and/or install their wire and cable system underground.”

Herrera stressed that underground cable systems would cost hundreds of billions of pesos under why under her proposal, “the private sector bear the full cost of the underground cable system because the annual budget cannot bear that burden.”

For government to do it, there has to be affordable foreign financing from multiple sources and possibly, the issuance of bonds—bonds like the reconstruction bonds issued after the Luzon earthquake of July 1991.

Underground cabling can be done in phases nationwide. It can be a ten-year program, starting with Metro Manila, Tagaytay, Batangas City, and Lipa City, according to Herrera.

She said that underground cabling more secure from volcanic ash, strong winds, and floods, it would also enhance the architectural beauty of cities and towns, make them more livable environments.

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