NGCP ready to partner with DICT in broadband program

By Lenie Lectura – February 8, 2018
from Business Mirror

THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) does not want to enter into a tripartite agreement with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Transmission  Corp. (Transco) for the use of fiber-optic cables for the development of the National Broadband Program (NBP).

In a letter to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, the grid operator said it is willing to sign an agreement with the DICT only.

“NGCP maintains that it can legally enter into a bilateral agreement with the DICT sans Transco or PSALM [Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.] based on its franchise and the concession agreement between and among NGCP, PSALM and Transco,” NGCP President Henry Sy Jr. said.

The NGCP’s letter, dated January 25, was in response to Cusi’s January 23 letter seeking clarification if NGCP is willing to enter into a tripartite agreement with DICT and TransCo. If not, Cusi also asked the NGCP the reasons and legal bases to reject the proposal to enter into a tripartite agreement.

The NGCP cited Section 1 of Republic Act (RA) 9511, which states that the NGCP is authorized to engage in any related business that maximizes the utilization of its assets such as, but not limited to, telecommunications system. Also, the concession agreement grants the NGCP on an exclusive basis the right to carry on any related business in accordance with applicable law, and provides that prior written consent of PSALM is no longer necessary should the grid operator enter into any related business.

“In other words, all attributes of ownership, i.e., the right to construct, install, finance, manage, expand, improve, operate, maintain, including the right to engage in related business, have been granted and transferred to the NGCP on an exclusive basis and in the concept of an owner under the law and the concession agreement. Hence, only the NGGP has the right to grant the use of the fiber-optic assets, which are integral part of the transmission assets,” Sy stressed.

The NGCP also pointed out that from the beginning, it has proposed a bilateral agreement with the government through the DICT, which has the mandate to implement the NBP, and is willing to grant the DICT the use of its fiber-optic assets to avoid huge capital outlay and delay in the implementation of the program.

Upon receipt of the NGCP’s letter, Cusi wrote Transco.  The energy chief requested Transco to comment on the NGCP’s position.