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Gatchalian seeks review on NGCP ops amid nat'l interest concerns

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Saturday called on the Joint Congressional Energy Commission to verify if Filipinos are in charge of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines' day-to-day operations amid concerns of several senators over China-owned State Grid Corp.'s 40% stake of the power transmission firm.

JCEC is the country's primary watchdog in the power sector.

“There is a need to verify whether Filipinos are actually in charge of the day-to-day management of the grid as mandated by the constitution," Gatchalian said in a statement on Saturday.

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

Moreover, the senator said that verification is needed despite the assurance of the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) that "all executive officers of the NGCP are Filipinos."

However, according to Gatchalian, concession agreement limits the Grid Corp. from assigning Chinese officials from managing the transmission lines.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, filed Senate Resolution No. 219 which directs the Senate Energy Committee to scrutinize the compliance of NGCP on its mandate to safeguard the grid and ensure continuous electric supply in the country.

He also pushed for a more active government supervision on the national grid to ensure its "security and resiliency" against "physical and virtual threats and vulnerabilities" as it is one of the vital facilities in the country.

“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,” Gatchalian said.

“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 added.  —Joahna Lei Casilao/LBG, GMA News