Duterte to consult security officials over PH power grid issue

MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte would first seek the advice of Philippine security officials before making a move with regards to the arrangement of a Filipino-Chinese consortium to manage and operate the Philippines' power transmission infrastructure, MalacaAang said on Thursday.

In a regular Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte could not order an investigation without hearing the arguments of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

Wala pa (There is none yet), Panelo said when asked if the President had already sought the conduct of an investigation into reports that the Philippines' power grid is under the control of the Chinese government and could be shut off in the event of conflict between the two nations.

Syempre, papakinggan niya muna 'yung security officials niya. Security matter 'yun (Of course, he would have to listen to his security officials. That is a security matter), he added.

Several lawmakers and former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio have raised worry over China's co-ownership of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which operates the country's power transmission system.

The NGCP, a private consortium in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country's state-run power grid, is 40 percent owned by China's State Grid Corp.

The Senate energy committee is expected to conduct a legislative inquiry into apprehensions that China may be able to shut down the country's power infrastructure.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, in an interview with ANC on Wednesday, acknowledged that the arrangement between the two countries was onerous due to the government's lack of full oversight.

Quizzed if there is a reason for the Philippines to be worried, Panelo said, We will defer to the position of the DND, as well as NICA. Wala pa akong naririnig sa kanila (I have yet to hear their sides).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said it is completely groundless to claim that Beijing has control over the Philippines' power infrastructure.

Geng also appealed to critics to look at the power grid deal objectively.

There is no need to worry about the sky falling or imagine trouble (when) there is none, the Chinese official said, based on a transcript released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

No need to worry over influx of Chinese in PH

Meanwhile, Panelo said there was no basis to be alarmed over the apparent surge of Chinese nationals in the Philippines.

He said the rising number of Chinese citizens entering the country should instead be considered as a welcome development.

You must remember na gumagawa nga tayo ng paraan to attract visitors in this country (You must remember that we are trying to find ways to attract visitors to the country), Panelo said. Basta nakakatulong sa ating bayan (So long as it is advantageous to the country), we welcome them.

The Philippines has observed a spike in the arrival of Chinese tourists and workers since Duterte came to power in 2016 and sought warming ties with Beijing.

Panelo guaranteed that Chinese nationals who will violate Philippine laws would either be arrested or deported.

The moment they violate any law or ordinance, they will be properly prosecuted, either to send them behind bars or to send them back to where they came from, he said.

The Bureau of Immigration in October reported that the Philippines deported about 270 Chinese nationals, including those involved in investment scams, gambling den workers, and illegal and overstaying aliens. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency