A man, drunk and reportedly distraught with a domestic problem, climbed a 100-foot transmission line tower of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) in Barangay San Rafael, Puerto Princesa City on Sunday afternoon.
NAPOCOR authorities had to cut off the power supply to Roxas municipality to pave way for a successful rescue operation later in the day by members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in the city.
The climber was said to be a fisherman, who according to his relatives was ill with malaria and emotionally troubled due to a personal problem with his wife. City fire marshall Nilo Caabay Jr. identified the man as Nestor Jogo Vargas, 43, a fisherman and resident of the same barangay.
“Base sa mga kamag-anak ito nga ay dati nang na-Falciparum pero ang pinaka-motive niya e hiwalay daw sila ng asawa niya at gusto niyang makipagbalikan, kaya lang hindi malinaw ‘yong pagbabalikan nila,” Caabay said.
Vargas reportedly got himself drunk before scaling the transmission tower at around 10 a.m., prompting the local barangay captain to call for assistance from the city fire department, which immediately dispatched its Special Rescue Unit (SRU).
He said the rescue operation took an hour before the rescuers managed to reach the climber, who willingly gave himself up.
Caabay said that when rescuers reached Vargas, he told them he was planning to commit suicide.
“Ang statement niya doon sa mga rescuers natin na umakyat, umiiyak siya at parang nahihiya siya sabi niya — ‘Pasensiya na kayo, pati kayo nadadamay. Bukas attend kayo sa lamay ko’. Ganun na mga statement niya,” Caabay said.
“Ang kagandahan hindi na nanlaban, naging submissive na. Kung nanlaban pa sa itaas mas mahirap pa ang operation. So far naging maayos naman, naging cooperative. Noong bandang kalagitnaan, nag struggle lang ng kaunti,” he added.
He said that the operation was not easy because of the tower’s height, which was equivalent to climbing a 10-storey building.
“Ang instruction ko sa mga umakyat huwag mag-apura. Kung kailangan magpahinga, magpahinga before mag-approach. Mag-gain muna ng rest after makapag-gain ng rest, saka lang uli mag-approach,” Caabay said.
Fred Barrios, officer-in-charge of NAPOCOR told Palawan News they are not inclined to press charges against Vargas.
“Mukhang mahirap naman ito patawan ng charges dahil nga may sakit siya (malaria) — Falciparum 4. Ang alam lang namin nakainom siya ng alak noong morning, then umakyat na sya doon sa tower yon ung sabi doon sa barangay,” Barrios said.
“Pasalamat na lang kami at natawagan agad kami at napatay agad natin yong linya ng kuryente doon. Nagpapasalamat din kami sa BFP sa tulong nila sila talaga ang nakipag-negotiate doon sa tao kaya naibaba ng maayos. Alas sais ng gabi naibalik na rin ang kuryente sa Roxas,” he added.