Saturday, August 8, 2020

Hontiveros Exposes Security Risk Over China’s Control Over National Power Grid


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros revealed documents showing Chinese nationals exercising leadership and management roles in the country’s power grid, amid concerns about foreign control of the country’s electric power system.

Hontiveros belied National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Inc’s [NGCP] claim that Chinese participation in its operations is limited to advisory roles. “Chinese nationals have been appointed to key and sensitive positions in the nation’s power transmission service provider,” the Akbayan Senator claimed.

Documents presented to the Senate revealed that a Chinese national, Wen Bo, was named NGCP ‘Chief Technical Officer’, while a certain Liu Zhaoquiang was appointed ‘Assistant Chief Technical Officer for Operations and Maintenance.’ Another document showed Lui Zhaoquiang formally representing the NGCP in an event with the Bureau of Fire Protection.

“Kasinungalingan ang pagsabing ‘advisory role’ lang ang Tsina. China is in charge of the nuts and bolts of our country’s power grid, with full control of operations and maintenance,” Hontiveros remarked. It was earlier revealed that NGCP’s Chairperson is Chinese national Zhu Guangchao, State Grid Corporation of China’s director-general.

“NGCP has also awarded various procurement contracts to different Chinese firms,” Hontiveros furthered. “Nakakabahala kasi at least 43 projects under construction at new projects sa bansa para sa ating power grid ay nasa Tsina. Materials for the infrastructure of the transmission lines have been supplied by Chinese firms using Chinese designed technology,” she added.

“Ang chairman Chinese, halos lahat ng contractors Chinese, ang systems software made in China, at ang training sa China. Saan dito ang Filipino-run?” Hontiveros asked.

The Senator also hit what she called an ‘onerous concession agreement favoring big income to China and the NGCP.’ “The government is losing money while NGCP is raking in profits,” she claimed referring to financial data showing that as of 2018, the corporation has achieved its return of investment (ROI) of PhP 180 billion due to profits from its transmission business alone with 15 more years left in the 25-year lifespan of the concession agreement with tax-exemption. “PhP7.4 billion taon-taon ang nawawala sa gobyerno dahil sa tax exemption,” she furthered.

The senator from Akbayan also called for an immediate inspection and audit, including a cyberaudit, of NGCP facilities and a source code review of its systems software. “Kung walang tinatago, wala namang dapat ikatakot, ‘di ba? This audit should be done immediately by government officials and independent experts, with a view towards looking at national security implications,” Hontiveros urged.

“The primary issue is national security. We need to assert our sovereignty. Bilyones ang kita ng NGCP, exposed pa ang pambansang seguridad. Para naman tayong ginigisa sa sariling mantika niyan,” she concluded.
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