Telcos battle illegal cable cutting, sabotage

Local telcos suffered at least a thousand incidents of cable theft and sabotage of their network equipment in the first semester of 2022 alone.

They urged customers to stay vigilant against such illegal activities disrupting their internet connection, Thursday, July 21.

Recently, a group of men intentionally cut and damaged PLDT fiber optic cables, disrupting the delivery of PLDT services in Laguna, on top of persistent reports nationwide of sabotage of PLDT fiber optic cables, causing outages and hardship to subscribers.

Already, PLDT has recorded more than 200 theft and sabotage incidents costing millions in network restoration costs and inconvenient downtime to many customers.

Earlier this month, law enforcers arrested a handful of thieves stealing Globe Telecom Inc.'s cables in Cavite and Quezon City.

In Cavite, police caught three men with 50 boxes of stolen Globe cables worth around P129,000 and in Congressional Avenue, Quezon City, a man was arrested for stealing Bayantel copper wires.

From January to June this year, Globe filed charges against 267 individuals, including third-party contractors, linked to rampant cable theft and other criminal offenses.

Latest data showed a total of 567 reported theft incidents in Globe sites in the first half of 2022, including 306 incidents of copper cable theft and 82 cases of stolen batteries from cell sites. About 5,280 liters of fuel and 10 generator sets were also stolen from various sites nationwide.

PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. are working closely with local government units and local authorities to ensure the safety and security of network equipment vital to delivering its fiber-to-the-home, LTE and 5G services, says Roderick S. Santiago, PLDT Network Head.

“We also encourage our customers to help us by reporting similar activities in their respective areas and barangays. Together, we can ensure that our communities can stay safe and connected,” he added.

Customers can report such incidents to PLDT's Asset Protection team via Hotline 164 (just dial 164) from their PLDT landline or Smart mobile.

For its part, Globe continues to intensify its #BantayKable campaign together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and barangay tanods to address cable cutting and theft that disrupt telecom services in affected areas.

“These deplorable acts not only affect the operations of Globe in delivering services but also severely impact our customers who rely heavily on connectivity for work and school,” says Atty. Froilan Castelo, Globe General Counsel.

The Globe Bantay Kable and Quick Response Team said 232 of the 267 suspects charged were involved in stealing copper cables, fiber optic cables, and manhole covers. The remaining 35 were caught stealing in unmanned cell sites.

Broken down, 118 of those arrested were from Luzon, 116 from Visayas, and 13 from Mindanao. They were charged with theft, qualified theft, robbery, violation of the anti-fencing law, malicious mischief, robbery, and violation of the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act 10515 or the Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Tapping Act of 2013.

Minors caught in the operations were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

On the other hand, about 41 of the arrested suspects for cable and cell site-related theft were contractors of Globe, while 25 were contractors of other telco providers.

“Globe wants to make sure that these unscrupulous individuals will face the full force of the law as we continue to ramp up our operations together with local authorities and barangay officials,” Castelo noted

To curb such criminal acts, Globe also encourages the public to immediately report cable theft incidents through its Security Hotline 0906-3244626 or email [email protected].