Beijing called Manila an “important partner” amid calls from some senators to investigate the performance of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) which is partly run by China.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin made the remark when asked to comment on the statement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that he would investigate the NGCP ownership.
NGCP is 40 percent owned by the State Grid Corp. of China while the remaining 60 percent belongs to a group of Filipino businessmen led by Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coyiuto Jr.
“The Philippines is a friendly neighbor and important partner of China,” Wang said in a press briefing on Wednesday. The Chinese Embassy in Manila shared his statement.
“China supports Chinese companies in carrying out practical cooperation in the Philippines in accordance with laws and regulations and producing greater mutual benefits,” Wang added.
Malacañang on Wednesday said that government is ready to take control of the NGCP if it becomes vulnerable to a takeover by a foreign entity.
Sen. Rafael “Raffy” Tulfo said the President has agreed with his proposal “to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the situation to determine whether the government should take back control of the transmission sector.”
Tulfo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, filed Senate Resolution 609 to investigate the NGCP, citing a possible security threat in connection with the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.
He said it is possible for China to remotely access the country’s national grid to sabotage it.
Fellow Senators Mary Grace Poe, Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay also pushed for an audit of the NGCP amid power outages being experienced in various parts of the country.
However, Sen. Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero has cautioned against reacquiring properties formerly owned by the Philippine government, saying it might discourage foreign investors from doing business in the country.
Senators Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and Hontiveros want to reclaim control of the NGCP, particularly from Chinese control amid security issues and recurring power outages.
“It can paralyze the whole country. It will have an enormous effect on our economy and national security. I am wary because they’re becoming hostile and aggressive,” Ejercito said in a statement.
“Based on expert testimony submitted during earlier Senate investigations, China acquired the upper hand in regulating the system functioning of the grid because it owns 40 percent of the consortium,” Hontiveros said.