President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday the Chinese government had offered him a mobile phone that could not be hacked or accessed through computers or computer network.
He did not give details, but he made the statement when he was asked if China was capable of controlling the Philippines’ power grid.
“Right now they are listening to us, [through] satellites, without using the grid, the spies. They know, I know because I have talked to him [Chinese President Xi Jinping], Duterte told GMA News.
“And as a matter of fact they offered to give me a cellphone that could not be hacked, but he refused the offer since he did want the public to suspect that he had secrets.
Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, along with some lawmakers, earlier raised concerns over China’s ownership of a 40-percent stake in National Grid Corporation, a private consortium that has been operating the Philippines’ power lines since 2009.
CNN earlier reported that the system was now “under the full control” of the Chinese government, which had the “full capability to disrupt national power systems.”
According to the CNN report, only Chinese engineers had access to the key elements of the system, and that power could, in theory, be deactivated remotely at Beijing’s orders.
Duterte earlier rejected the claim that China was capable of controlling the Philippines’ power grid, adding he still trusted Beijing.
“I will ask China now. I‘d like to address myself, respectfully to President Xi, what could be the reason because I do not believe that they will do. But if there is, what could be the reason for you to cut [the grid]? Duterte said.
“What could be the possible reason that China would spy or cut the grid?”
In August, Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in his five-day visit to China to assert the country’s arbitral victory that spelled out the Philippines’ marine entitlements in the South China Sea and rejected Beijing’s historic claims.
Duterte says Xi offered Manila a bigger share in the joint oil exploration in the South China Sea if the government would set aside the 2016 arbitral ruling.
Malacañang said the country would not abandon the 2016 Hague ruling while pursuing a joint oil exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.