Power grid is in Filipino hands, NGCP assures public
In this Nov. 7, 2019 photo, linemen conduct maintenance work on an electric post along Recto Avenue in Manila.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Power grid is in Filipino hands, NGCP assures public

(Philstar.com) - November 27, 2019 - 10:46am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8:42 p.m.) — The country's electric grid is in Filipino hands, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said Wednesday in response to allegations that China is actually o control of it.

Lawyer Cynthia Perez-Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson, said in a phone interview on ANC that under its agreement with the government and its franchise, NGCP is mandated to expand and safeguard the country's power grid.

"NGCP is a Filipino corporation," she stressed, adding the participation of the State Grid of China is only in board representation. 

"Control of the day-to-day operations is in Filipino hands," she also said.

Perez-Alabanza said that only authorized NGCP personnel have access to sensitive areas, which are secured.

"The allegations that have been coming out that it is possible to remotely access and shut down the grid, those are baseless accusations," she said.

Leaked report

An internal report leaked to CNN claimed that only Chinese engineers have access to the technology of the country's power grid.

The report urged Filipino lawmakers to review the State Grid of China's involvement in NGCP due to concerns that the Chinese government has "the full capability to disrupt national power systems."

"Our national security is completely compromised due to the control and proprietary access given by the local consortium partner to the Chinese government," the report said, as published by CNN.

According to the report, China's State Grid Corporation had switched the Philippines' power technology to Huawei products.

The leaked report also claimed that none of the Filipino engineers are trained nor certified to operate the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system used to monitor electrical assets dependent on Huawei technology.

Huawei, however, had denied the claims of the report, saying that it has never provided any equipment for the NGCP's control systems.

A spokesperson of Huawei told CNN that it has "always strictly complied with all applicable laws and regulations of the countries where it operates."

The NGCP, meanwhile, insisted that Filipinos handle the day-to-day operations of the country's power grid.

The statement was made in response to the remarks of retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that foreign control of the country's power grid should be a cause for concern.

The NGCP stressed that 60% of the consortium is owned by Filipinos and that the company's direction is based on the decisions of its board of directors.

"The role of this foreign technical partner is limited to that of an investor, with board seats corresponding to its 40% investment share," the consortium said in a statement to CNN Philippines.

"NGCP is, from its inception to the present, a Filipino corporation, with 60% of its shares controlled by Filipino nationals (Henry Jr.) Sy and (Robert Jr.) Coyiuto, in full compliance with the provisions of the Philippine Constitution on Filipino ownership of certain industries, including transmission," it added.

Last week, senators raised concerns about Chinese ownership of the NGCP.

Sen. Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked if China could remotely shut down significant portions of the country's power grid.

Speaking for the Department of Energy and National Transmission Corp. (Transco) officials, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said remote shut down of the Philippine power system is possible given the current technology.

"It’s difficult to say they have the technology installed. But the technology is available. That’s why Transco is requesting to conduct a technical and financial and legal audit of NGCP," Gatchalian said in a Senate hearing last week. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with reports from Paolo Romero

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