China stake in power transmission firm bothers Senator Santiago

by Leila B. Salaveria, February 23, 2015
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

miriam-defensor-santiago

MANILA, Philippines—As the country braces for an energy shortage in the next months, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has expressed concern about China’s stake in the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which manages electricity transmission in the country.

The power industry has been infected with a “national security virus” since a firm run by the Chinese government holds 40 percent of NGCP’s capital stock, Santiago said in a press statement.

Santiago did not name the Chinese company but State Grid Corp. of China is one the companies that comprise the private consortium making up the NGCP. The others are One Taipan Holdings Corp. and Calaca High Power Corp., each with a 30-percent stake.

The Philippines and China are currently locked in a territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which China claiming almost in its entirety.

“The Philippine Constitution is replete with requirements of nationalism but such a vital and strategic industry, such as the electric power industry, is infected by a national security virus,” Santiago said.

She pointed out that the NGCP was in charge of the mechanism to distribute electricity from generators to millions of consumers.

Power industry core

“It is the core or the heart of the electric power industry,” she said.

The NGCP could not be reached for comment.

The Senate is deliberating on a joint resolution that would give President Aquino special powers to address the looming power shortage. The House of Representatives approved its version of the measure last year.

Among other things, the resolution seeks to encourage businesses to join the interruptible load program (ILP) in which they would use their own generators during peak hours, with the government reimbursing them. The Malampaya Fund royalties from the gas fields off Palawan province would be tapped for the program.

Santiago said the joint resolution was too broad, noting that it cannot fix problems in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

If the joint resolution is intended to address the short-run supply problem, it should be limited to this matter alone, she said. The measure should also be simple, easy to implement and time-bound.

“The shortage we are suffering is beyond electric power and goes to the crisis of governance,” she said.

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