Filipinos 'exclusively' control, manage PH power grid: NGCP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2019 12:38 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2019 01:54 PM

MANILA - (3RD UPDATE) Filipinos are in control of the country's power transmission infrastructure, the Filipino-Chinese consortium that manages and operates it for the Philippine government said Wednesday, following concerns raised by lawmakers.

The State Grid Corp of China, which has a 40-percent stake in the National Grid Corp, is limited to being a "technical adviser," the NGCP said in a statement. Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp and Calaca High Power Corp, both from the Philippines, hold the remaining 60 percent.

Transco or the National Transmission Corp, a Philippine government company, owns the grid or the transmission lines that connect power plants to power distribution utilities. NGCP manages and operates the grid.

"SGCC serves only as the technical adviser of the consortium, but the management and the control of NGCP, including its Systems Operation, are exclusively exercised by Filipinos," it said.

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or the system that controls the grid is operated by "authorized Filipino technical experts" and cannot be accessed by remote users, the NGCP said.

The VPN access, or the remote connection for the system "may only be granted to the Filipino CEO in an emergency situation and only after undergoing a secure and confidential approval process," NGCP president and chief executive officer Anthony Almeda said.

The grid's data center is equipped with biometric controls so that only authorized NGCP personnel can enter. Its servers and workstations are also protected by firewalls and "layers of authentication systems to block unauthorized access."

Allegations that China can remotely access and shut down the grid are "baseless" and "purely speculative," said NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-Alabanza. 

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Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called for an investigation on whether China could access the Philippines' power grid, saying such control would allow it to "sabotage" power, telecommunications and internet systems.

Responding to Hontiveros, the NGCP said legislators could visit its facilities "personally."

“We are happy to welcome our senators and congressmen as well as an independent third party to visit our facilities in order to dispel any security concerns that had been raised these past few days,” Almeda said.

The National Transmission Corp (TransCo) on Tuesday also called for an “extensive” audit on NGCP and its operations, its President and CEO Melvin Matibag told DZMM radio.