Naga SP enacts telco ordinance

By Jason B. Neola


The Sanggunian Panglungsod of Naga City recently enacted an ordinance penalizing the operation officer or a manager of a public utility firm with a fine and/or imprisonment once he or she failed to relocate his/her company’s distribution poles and transmission lines that pose hazard to the public.


Telecommunications firms, including Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Casureco II), will suffer similar consequence should they also fail to remove their redundant lines under the ordinance approved by Mayor Nelson Legacion.


City Ordinance 2021-047, authored by Joselito S.A. Del Rosario and City Youth Councilor Averly Jerryl A. Escoto, orders the relocation of distribution poles and lines of various utility companies in the city including the removal of redundant lines.


The measure, which was passed by the city council on June 15, 221 is known as the “Telco Ordinance of Naga City.”


The need to enact the ordinance was prompted by the implementation of various road and drainage infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Department of Energy, the Department of of Public Works and Highways, and the Naga City government.


Naga City has an existing ordinance enacted on May 16, 2019 that provided the guidelines on the construction, installation, and maintenance of electrical poles and wires, television and telephone cables within its territorial jurisdiction.


It even created its Anti-Dangling Wire Task Force and has activated similar groups for road clearing that helped achieved positive results.


“However, the simultaneous road widening projects necessitated rapid response from the utility companies concerned, which is much desired today,” Del Rosario said when he endorsed the enactment of the telco ordinance.


Section 3 of the ordinance said that all poles and distribution lines owned, installed, and maintained by various utility companies affected by projects of the national government or the LGU and are posing hazard to the general public shall be relocated in proper areas and all redundant lines shall be removed.


It was stated in the same section that the area of relocation must not hinder free passage of vehicles and pedestrians and compliant with the city’s Pole Location Plan and the revised Philippine Electrical Code.


A compulsory inventory of all poles and lines of the electric cooperative and different telcos is required within one month from the effectivity of the ordinance, which shall take effect upon its approval by the city mayor and publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city.


The receipt of notice to transfer, as provided for in the ordinance’s Section 5.b, constitutes due notice to the concerned utility firms and will serve as the reckoning period to compute the days of inaction or non-compliance thereof.


A final demand to relocate shall be issued by the city government within five working days from the lapse of the 15-day period. “If there’s no action taken by the utilities, a notice of violation shall be issued by the city government within seven working days from the receipt of the final demand to relocate. No extension of the period will be given for non-compliance since it is the safety of the public is at stake,” Del Rosario said.


The measure also created the Inter-Agency Task Force mandated among others, to oversee the implementation of the ordinance and cause the removal of poles and lines in coordination with Casureco II.


The ordinance said that the task force shall formulate guidelines to govern cases of toppling down and/or removal of pole and/or line, which is caused by inaction of a public utility. The cost of such undertaking shall be charged against the erring utility firm.


For the first offense, the ordinance imposes a fine of P3,000 for each 50 meter-span of affected pole/line not relocated or removed after the lapse of the period as provided in the ordinance.


Second offense – a fine of P5,000 for each 50 meter-span of affected pole/line not relocated or removed shall be imposed, and/or imprisonment of not more than a month shall be meted against the responsible official, or bot such fine and penalty at the discretion of the court, and;


Third offense – a fine of P5,000 for each 50 meter-span of affected pole/line not relocated or removed shall be imposed, and/or imprisonment of not more than 2 months shall be meted against the responsible official, or bot such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. The working permit/clearance given to the erring public utility by LGU Naga shall also be suspended.


A joint Legislative and Executive Oversight Committee was also created to monitor and oversee the implementation of the ordinance.