"We cannot turn a blind eye to this risk, particularly to our national security."
The rainy weather has seemingly cooled down demands for energy in Metro Manila. However, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) remains under fire due to its inadequacies in fulfilling its mandate as a transmission service provider and as a public utility “in full compliance with the rules and regulations of the regulator, and existing laws governing its transmission operations.”
In the hearings conducted by the Senate on the recent power interruptions, it was said that the NGCP has consistently failed to comply with its obligations under its franchise to complete its projects in a timely manner and to enter into supply contracts for ancillary services or power reserves that are meant to help improve the thinning power supply. To this, Secretary Cusi stressed his belief that the power industry would be better managed if control is relinquished fully to the national government.
Let me reiterate. I have called for the nationalization of the National Grid since the 17th Congress. It is already public knowledge that there is a significant percentage of foreign ownership in the NGCP. We cannot turn a blind eye to this risk, particularly to our national security, most especially at this point where territorial disputes with China have resurfaced at the same time that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Given the reported negligence of the NGCP to fulfill its obligations, it is high time that we held it accountable for these power disruptions, as well as these disruptions’ grave repercussions on businesses, industries, and even households. We have been consistently calling for adequate and steady electric power in the country. We even have pushed for construction of new power plants to augment the current power supply. For numerous times, issues on energy have been raised. It is very disappointing that these calls fell on deaf ears. Well, it may not be as surprising given that local problems may not matter much to foreign entities.
Cognizant of this problem, Rep. Aleta Suarez re-filed my bill last Congress on the nationalization of the NGCP. House Bill No. 4672 declares that the NGCP shall be exclusively owned and operated by Filipinos. With this, I call upon Congress and the Senate to adopt this bill and formally include this in its deliberations at the start of the session. With a legislative franchise, NGCP is supposed to faithfully and diligently comply with the orders of the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and the national government on matters relating to its functions. Hence, NGCP merely exercises a privilege accorded to it by law which can be revoked by Congress at any time.
Apart from this, let me also urge the DOE and the ERC to investigate NGCP and hold them accountable once and for all in the power shortage mess. It is time we put our foot down in dealing with public utilities which consistently fail to deliver quality public service.
As I have said many times, in public service, it’s either you shape up or ship out. Operating a public utility is no different. While this pandemic already burdens many Filipinos, we cannot permit nor condone any more deplorable and preventable crisis. As we struggle to keep our hearts and minds alight in this pandemic, we cannot let anyone dim our light.