No Duterte order to probe China’s co-ownership of NGCP

MANILA — There is no directive from President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate China’s co-ownership of the private consortium that oversees the management and operation of the Philippines’ power grid, Malacañang said on Sunday.

“Wala (There is none),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview with dzIQ, when asked if the President has already ordered the conduct of probe into China’s 40-percent stake in the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

China’s State Grid Corp. controls 40 percent of the NGCP that manages and operates the Philippines’ power transmission infrastructure owned by the state-run National Transmission Corp.

On Tuesday, former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio raised worry over China’s co-ownership of NGCP, as he floated the possibility that Beijing might shut down the Philippines’ power supply by injecting a “malware or software.”

Duterte, in an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday, said China merely wanted to earn money and has no plan to control the Philippines’ power transmission lines.

Panelo likewise said there was no reason for China to terminate the Philippines’ power grid.

“Ang narinig ko kay Presidente, ‘yung mga sinasabing baka mag-shut down parang malayo naman ‘yata ‘yun (Based on what I’ve heard from the President, there’s a slim chance that China would shut down our power grid),” he said.

“Unang-una, negosyo ‘yun. Bakit naman nila gagawin ‘yun? Ano naman ang reason para mag-shut down o patayin nila ang connection (First and foremost, it’s a business. Why would they do that? What is their reason to shut down our power connection)?” Panelo added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang earlier said it was “completely groundless” to claim that Beijing would shut down the Philippines’ power grid.

The NGCP, meantime, explained that China’s State Grid Corp.’s role is limited to being a “technical adviser.”

Panelo said the executive branch would let the Department of National Defense and the National Security Council assess whether the issue can be considered as a “pressing national concern.”

Duterte assured the public that despite Manila’s warming ties with Beijing, he would not tolerate any unacceptable actions by China.

“Sasabihin ko sa (I will tell China), ‘Look China, we’re friends, we’re doing business. You want money. We want money. It produces money for both of us. Now do you intend to cut it and for what reason? You answer me,’” he told CNN Philippines.

“Why would you take control out of a thing that you would offer. I will not allow that. You know China, if you do that, there will be a quarrel. I may not overcome you but you will receive from me a mouthful,” the President added.  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA –