THE presence of foreign state-owned investor corporations in the Philippine private sector is a relatively rare phenomenon.
It is unfortunate that in two recent instances foreign state-owned corporations doing business in the Philippines have been involved in some unpleasant passes.
The first is the Czech Republic’s Inekon company. The Czech Embassy in Manila supported this corporation’s efforts to bag the contract to supply coaches for the MRT3. But the corruption serpent of our country coiled itself around the neck of the very generous Czech offer of a government-to-government contract and killed it. In the process, Philippine relations with the Czech Republic suffered. The DOTC bosses at first refused to consider the truthfulness of reports about extortion attempts by their men at the MRT management and even campaigned against the Czech ambassador.
They tried to make it appear that there was something unseemly about his being eager to get the business for his country’s corporation. They wanted to make the ambassador look bad for doing one of his key missions here—to win contracts for his country’s industries.
Then when the heat of media exposes rose (mainly the work of The Manila Times and its crusading Chairman Emeritus), the DOTC secretary decided to have the extortion attempt investigated. The MRT general manager had to go on leave.
China’s State Grid
Another state-owned corporation’s foray into the forest of Philippine industry is that of the State Grid Corporation of China (State Grid), whose subsidiary owns the controlling part of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). The owners of the other part of the NGCP are the Sys of SM.
China’s State Grid is not the only state-owned giant corporation with substantial investments in the Philippines. Several Chinese government corporations have funded and built some of the largest infrastructure projects in our country.
But it is China State Grid’s control of the NGCP that is being viewed critically by some, including us in The Manila Times.
The NGCP while not an institution of the Philippine state has the power and responsibility of overseeing, supervising and guaranteeing that electric power is distributed to customers all over the archipelago.
It is a horrible prospect to ponder what the Chinese experts and executives who control our country’s national power grid would do if they were ordered by their government to do what they can to undermine the Philippines because our government has been fighting the People’s Republic of China. Yes, our government has done this by insisting that the Spratlys and other features of the ocean—shoals, reefs and islets—are part of the Philippines. Worse the Philippine government has sued China in the United Nations and is telling the world that China is a bully and a land and maritime territory grabber.
These can drive Beijing to act more aggressively: Problems of the basically non-communist Chinese Communist Party-ruled government to keep the poor scores of millions living in the inner provinces from rising against the center as Mao Zedong would have. Beijing’s need to show the United States that it must be given its moment of superpower superiority in the South China Sea (including the West Philippine Sea that belongs to the Philippine exclusive economic zone). There are many more factors that could make the Chinese leaders decide to show the Chinese people that “the Philippines must be punished.” They decided to that to Vietnam.
The punishment could consist of taking possession of more Philippine shoals and reefs. And firing more than water cannons at Filipino fishermen. It could also be the major one of wrecking our power industry.
And that could be the reason Mindanao has suffered a serious island-wide outage. And the concerned Filipino authorities have no clue what happened. Why? Because the Chinese executives and experts of our country’s national grid could or would not tell.