Gatchalian: NGCP should allow deeper gov’t inspection
MANILA, Philippines — The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NCGP) should allow a deeper inspection of its facilities amid concerns on national security that stems from China’s alleged access and control over the country’s power grid system, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Wednesday.
“I think what is important right now is the government exercising its check and balance role. NGCP should allow government to go deeper into the inspection, not only superficially inspect the facilities of NGCP but also allow it to go inside the facilities, look at the software, look at the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that is being used, because this SCADA system is the system that can enable remote control and remote management of this facility,” Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
NGCP is a private firm in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s state-owned power grid. It is a consortium of three corporations: the Monte Oro Grid Resources Corporation, Calaca High Power Corporation, and the State Grid Corporation of China.
Gatchalian said the conflict arose when members of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo), and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) “were not allowed to go in NGCP as well as go in transmission assets.”
“During our hearing that was disclosed to us and that gave rise to a lot of concerns that there is no check and balance being exercised in so far as the national security aspect as well as the physical transmission lines,” he said.
He said technical experts from the TransCo and PSALM should be allowed to inspect transmission assets of the NGCP to allay the fears of the public and fulfill important safeguards in the concession agreement.
He explained that the government should be able to perform its check and balance role “considering that this is a vital infrastructure, one of its kind in the country, and a natural monopoly.”
“Because of that, it is imbued with national security aspects and that’s why we need to focus on that. Aside from the commercial and the performance issues, we also need to focus on the national security concern that can adversely impact our country,” said the senator.
According to Gatchalian, the Senate targets to start its investigation into China’s 40 percent stake in the country’s power transmission line by the second or third week of December.
Should the Senate discover that provisions in the franchise of the NGCP were violated, he said there is a possibility that Congress revokes the franchise.
“The franchise is a privilege given to a certain juridical entity to operate the system of our transmission line but this franchise can also be revoked if the franchise has been violated,” he added.