Gatchalian urges Senate probe on NGCP

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Senate Energy Committee Chairman Senator Sherwin Gatchalian formally asked the Senate leadership to examine the compliance of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on its mandate to safeguard the grid and ensure continuous electricity supply in the country.

According to a Manila Bulletin report, Gatchalian asked the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) to look into the operations of the country’s power transmission line to verify whether Filipinos are in-charge of its day-to-day management amid national security concerns.

Gatchalian recently filed Senate Resolution 219 following concerns over China-owned State Grid Corp.’s 40-percent stake in the country’s lone transmission line, triggered by reports stating China’s capability of sabotaging the country’s power supply by remote control.

This was confirmed by National Transmission Company (TRANSCO) President Atty. Melvin Matibag during the deliberation of the proposed P2.3-B budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) for 2020.

“This could reportedly done by China and other possible hackers because of the installation of remote monitoring and control system at transmission lines under the supervision of NGCP,” Matibag stated in the report.

Gatchalian underscored the need to verify despite TRANSCO’s and DOE’s manifestations during the 2020 budget deliberations that all executive officers of NGCP are Filipinos.

“We should employ all possible safeguards to ensure that Filipinos are in control of lone power grid, that Filipino interests are being protected and national security concerns are covered 100 percent,” Gatchalian was quoted as saying.

While State Grid Corp. has 40-percent stake in the NGCP, Gatchalian stressed that its concession agreement limits the Chinese firm from assigning Chinese officials from managing the transmission lines.

He also asserted that it is imperative for a more active government supervision over the national grid, an established a plan of action for the regular audit and inspection of NGCP’s operations, and a formulated national strategy to ensure security and resiliency of the national grid amid threats.

“The national grid is the sole backbone for the transmission of electricity throughout the entire country and any event leading to its failure to operate will have wide ranging effects on the economy, public safety, and national security. The power transmission line is one of the vital facilities in our country. With a single switch, no electricity will be transmitted in our homes, businesses, to our military facilities. That’s why it is very important that the management in control of the transmission line are Filipinos,” Gatchalian expressed.

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