Senators open to act on calls for NGCP franchise review
MANILA, Philippines — With recent system disturbances hounding the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), senators are willing to act on mounting calls to scrutinize the private power grid operator’s legislative franchise.
Senator Grace Poe, head of the chamber’s public services committee, on Monday said the panel is willing to re-evaluate the NGCP franchise “as it concerns a critical need of Filipinos.”
Discussions on granting and amending congressional franchises are within the jurisdiction of the Poe-led panel.
“The committee will thoroughly scrutinize the performance of the NGCP and see if it has remained faithful to its signed franchise or if violations have been committed,” she told reporters in a message.
Poe said recurring power outages should not be made an everyday ordeal for millions of households amid the worsening heat in the country.
“We must also exercise vigilance when it comes to our power lines to ensure that electricity running from Luzon to Mindanao remains under the control of Filipinos amid security concerns raised by senators,” the legislator added.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said calls to review the NGCP franchise “make a lot of sense.”
“Given the increasing occurrence of brownouts in the Philippines, the government should be more proactive in ensuring that there would be enough power supply in the country, especially with the imminent occurrence of El Niño,” he said in a separate message.
Villanueva cited Senate Resolution No. 556, which he filed in March, that seeks to guarantee the country’s power supply, especially during peak seasons, extreme weather events, and similar calamities.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said the NGCP franchise “may be canceled because it requires them to provide good services to the people.”
He had also filed Senate Resolution No. 607, directing the appropriate committee to investigate the series of electrical transmission system disruptions “with the end view of ensuring reliable and continuous electric power supply in the country.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros noted that the review of the NGCP’s franchise had long started in the previous Congress.
“Marami-rami ang obligasyon [ng NGCP] na hindi nila naipapatupad in terms of building and upgrading iyong mga iba’t ibang bahagi ng national grid natin and yet, sa kabila niyan, tuloy-tuloy ang pagkita nila,” she said in a media interview at the Senate.
(The NGCP has a lot of obligations that they have failed to comply with in terms of building and upgrading different aspects of our national grid, and yet, despite this, they continue to earn from it.)
The opposition senator said the chamber could again insist that lawmakers be allowed to inspect facilities in the NGCP headquarters physically.
She also renewed the call for the government to regain complete control over the NGCP and eliminate every bit of Chinese ownership.
Hontiveros pointed out that Chinese involvement in the country’s sole power grid operator may be a potential national security concern.
She argued that Chinese state-owned enterprises dealing with businesses from other countries may be obligated to collect information or intelligence reports for their government, which may then be to the detriment of the Philippines.