THE Chinese government and state media have berated the termination of the working permits of 18 Chinese executives and technicians at the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). China’s state-owned national grid corporation owns 40% of NGCP, the “heart of the Philippine electric power industry,” in the words of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who has also said that a “national security” virus infects the NGCP because of its technical and management control by this group of “overstaying” Chinese experts.
The Manila Times reported on February 25 (“DOE ousts Chinese from NGCP”) that Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said at least 18 Chinese are expected to be out from the NGCP as they are “overstaying” and their stay will no longer be extended. But Petilla said two Chinese experts will be allowed to stay on the NGCP’s Board, but they will have no hand in the technical and managerial aspects of the national grid.
Petilla urges Filipinos not to be “paranoid” about China’s presence in our country’s power sector because China also has shares in the power grids of other countries such as Austria, Brazil, Portugal and Germany. We agree that we should not be “paranoid.” But we see a flaw in Petilla’s thinking: in the countries he mentioned, experts from China’s state-owned grid corporation do not control the technical operations and management of the national grids.
China, expectedly, is very unhappy with the decision of the Philippine government to send home the Chinese personnel in the NGCP. The PRC state news agency Xinhua on Sunday attacked both the USA and the Philippines, saying that “as China rises to be a crucial player in the world economy, the United States is demonstrably attempting to exploit its growing business links with the Asia giant as a political bargain chip.” The termination of the Chinese executives and experts in the NGCP, it added, “is not only a flagrant violation of business ethics, but also lays bare Manila’ s short-sightedness and asininity.”
We ourselves have said the BS Aquino administration is short-sighted and asinine. And we have criticized Mr. Petilla. But we praise him for this decision.
Petilla doesn’t think the presence of Chinese top managers in NGCP poses a threat to national security but he thinks, quite correctly, that in our country’s national grid national security concerns must rank above the need to be accommodating to foreign investors.
We don’t think the termination of the contracts of the Chinese is such the big deal that Xinhua has characterized to be. And we don’t think the Chinese government will use it’s men running our national power grid to paralyze our country’s homes, schools, hospitals, businesses and industries by sabotaging the NGCP. China would lose credibility all over the world as a business-industrial partner and investor if it did this horrible act.
But we like Petilla’s action primarily because the Filipinos need the experience of holding the jobs that were given to the Chinese. And it’s a matter of national pride for us to be managing our own vital power facilities.
We also agree with Senator Defensor-Santiago that the national security aspect of this matter should not be played down.
Some of China’s officials, military leaders and state media, on account of the Aquino administration’s moves in combating China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine (South China) Sea, have warned that their country should teach us a lesson. And Chinese organs, not necessarily the PRC Central Government, have amply given Filipino fishermen, village residents and local government officials, painful physical and morale-destroying “lessons.”
What if an angry official in Beijing, with mental, psychological and psychiatric problems similar to what BS Aquino has been observed to have, gets so mad at us Filipinos and orders these Chinese execs and experts working in the NGCP to screw us big time?
Better to be prudent than sorry.