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Bacolod: Power Watch head questions China role at NGCP

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Bacolod City – The secretary general of Power Watch Negros Advocates said that a thorough evaluation of the country’s power security should be a primordial concern of the government, as well as the safeguarding of its power grid.

According to their press statement, on November 26, 2019 Senator Riza Hontiveros, filed a resolution urging Congress to conduct a national security audit on the operations and facilities of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) amid recent revelation of foreign access and control over the country’s transmission system.

The need for immediate assessment of NGCP was raised by former Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. On December 3, 2019 he indicated that it is not impossible now to operate the power system remotely from anywhere and called to review the 40 percent stake of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

Senate Committee Chairperson on Energy Raffy Tulfo said there was an intelligence report divulging that China has the capability to remotely access the country’s national grid and sabotage it. For PWNA Secretary-General Wennie Sancho, these are all disturbing and alarming developments, he added.

Some say that the stakes are high, given that as stakeholders, the Chinese entity enjoys privileged access to NGCP’s operation. This access, they added, implies the potential for obtaining crucial information, making the entire transmission system susceptible to external interference, he said.

NGCP is 40 percent owned by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the technical partner of a local consortium that won the bid to privatize the Philippine’s power transmission infrastructure in 2007. SGCC is owned by the People’s Republic of China. It is China’s largest electricity provider. It ranks 29th in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies by revenue in 2009, Sancho added.

In her column, Hidden Agenda, “It’s About Time” journalist Mary Ann L. Reyes, (The Philippine Star, Business, January 13, 2024) revealed some of the most disturbing facts about SGCC that may have dangerous implications on NGCP’s operations involving our national security as a people and as a nation. She wrote that SGCC, headquartered in Beijing, is a Chinese State-owned electricity utility corporation and is the largest utility company in the world. She wrote further, that according to Fitch Ratings, SGCC is 91.68 percent owned and controlled by China central State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) with the remaining 8.32 percent held by the National Council for Social Security Fund.

Fitch Ratings also revealed that SGCC is one of the SASAC’s vice-ministerial backbone state-owned-entities (SOE) and carries more social and political responsibilities than a purely commercial SOE. It said the chairman and senior management are appointed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, adding that the SGCC’s operations and investment are subject to a very high degree of government control and influence.

Sancho said it is imperative that a thorough reevaluation of the country’s energy security should be a primordial concern and that the safeguarding of our power grid is not only about ensuring a reliable and stable power supply but fortifying our national defense. One analyst commented that “whoever controls NGCP must be loyal to the Philippines and not to China.”

There is no need to paint a picture, the writing is on the wall. If China is at the helm of NGCP, it is dreadful. Despite assurances from NGCP officials that SGCC has no control over the transmission system, lingering doubts persist. There is a great danger that looms over NGCP. Let us not wait while danger gathers and for the blow to fall, because the first blow might be the last, he added. (PWNA PR via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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