Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros warned of “China-made blackouts” that could sabotage and paralyze the country’s electoral system and economy, access to the internet and other vital information, undermine national security and even topple the government.
Hontiveros issued the warning after the Senate, deliberating on the 2020 budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) last week, discovered that Chinese managers and engineers have access to the operations of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) which runs the country’s electricity grid.
It was reported that Atty. Melvin Matibag, President of state-owned National Transmission Company (Transco), admitted to the Senate that China has the capability to control and even shut down the country’s power transmission system remotely.
Hontiveros said that this could have devastating political, economic and security implications to the country.
“Imagine a foreign country, which is an unrepentant trespasser and aggressor in our seas and territories, controlling our national electricity grid. It could cripple our entire society. It could sabotage our elections, shutdown our access to television, the internet and other communication technologies, cause the collapse of our economy and undermine our national security. It could even overthrow our government,” Hontiveros said.
“With the flick of a switch, China could plunge the whole Philippines into darkness. By the simple push of a button, our country could be at the mercy of China-made blackouts,” Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros explained that the NGCP dispatches electricity from power plants to the country’s main grid, which, in turn, transmits it to facilities of distribution companies such as Meralco. She said that the State Grid Corporation of China owns 40% of the NGCP, whose grid also connects Luzon and the Visayas, allowing the former to send power to the latter and vice-versa. It also operates the Mindanao grid which the NGCP plans to connect to Luzon and the Visayas.
The Senator is calling for a Senate investigation on the said matter. “We want to know if our energy systems are not compromised and if we have the technical safeguards to ensure that these systems and infrastructure continue to be in our full control,” Hontiveros concluded.