Transco says full inspection of NGCP to ensure transparency


Posted at Dec 04 2019 12:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 04 2019 08:34 PM

MANILA - (UPDATE) Transco, the state company that owns the Philippines' power grid, on Wednesday urged the Filipino-Chinese consortium that operates it to allow a full inspection of its facilities.

An inspection of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) will show transparency in the face of concerns that its Chinese partner, the State Grid Corp of China, can shut it down remotely, said Transco president Melvin Matibag.

"Let's give the peace of mind to the people by allowing us to audit together with your team," Matibag told ANC's Headstart.

Matibag said an NGCP system that controls the grid, called the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, may not be secure enough. 

"That's the reason why we want an audit. We want to subject their system to a vulnerability assessment penetration test," he said.

On Tuesday, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said the system is stand alone and not connected to the Virtual Private Network or VPN.

However, VPN access may be granted to the supplier if there are repairs that need to be done, but not to the system. Such access requires clearance, she said.

Contrary to fears raised by some lawmakers, Alabanza had said that China cannot just remotely shut down the grid.

"I think that's a big lie," said Matibag. "Remotely siya ginagawa kaya hindi totoong kailangan mong patayin isa-isa yung switch to do that. That is so jurassic.

(It's done remotely so it's not true that you need to turn off switches one by one.)

It is "wrong" that the government does not have a representative in the NGCP board, Matibag said, adding, "Kung walang government control sinong mananagot?" he said.

(If there is no government control, who will be held accountable.)

NGCP president and CEO Anthony Almeda meanwhile said he is “open” to facing a legislative probe into the economic and security implications of the State Grid Corp. of China’s 40-percent stake in the country’s power grid.

Representatives of party-list group Bayan Muna earlier filed a resolution at the Lower House seeking an inquiry into NGCP, over national security concerns amid the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.

“Of course, we’re always open, at the end of the day these are only foreign investments,” Almeda said.

The NGCP head also insisted that Filipinos, and not the Chinese investors, are the ones in control of the country’s power transmission infrastructure.

“All are Filipino technical people, and for the Chinese, they are here only as directors of the company and only for their investments,” Almeda explained. 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier called NGCP's concession contract "onerous" and supported calls to investigate the deal.

- With a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News