The Representative of Quezon Province 3rd District seeks the return of the 40 percent share of a Chinese state-owned firm in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to Filipino owners.
NGCP is the manager and operator of the country’s power transmission system, which is an industry vital to national security.
NGCP acquired the 25-year concession of the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) in an auction conducted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. in 2008. It started operating, maintaining and developing the transmission network since 2009.
During a hearing on Tuesday, the House Energy Committee deliberated on House Resolution (HR) 280 which calls for a review of foreigners’ participation in NGCP.
The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) holds a 40 percent stake in NGCP, while Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. of Henry Sy Jr. and Calaca High Power Corp. of Robert Coyiuto Jr. each hold a 30 percent equity stake in NGCP.
Quezon Province 3rd District Rep. Danilo E. Suarez, who filed the resolution, questioned the ownership and control exercised by a Chinese entity in a vital national industry and said that the Philippines must buy back the equity.
“Buy back the 40 percent; either government buys it or a Filipino company. There must be no foreign ownership,” Suarez said.
Suarez, who is also the House Minority Leader, noted the State Grid Corporation of China should have recouped its investment by now.
“In fact, they did not pay in full but in installments and then they started earning revenue right away. I did not get it yet how they paid the $3.9 billion. Until now the Napocor debt is still huge. Where was the money spent?” he said.
After the hearing Suarez said that he will sign a separate House bill on the matter and file it on Wednesday.
The proposed bill will not give any opportunity for a single big owner. “Somebody else other than Sy and Coyiuto,” the lawmaker noted.
In terms of bidding out the 40 percent, Suarez said the Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission will come up with the mechanics.
Cynthia Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson and adviser for external affairs, told reporters that the company has no quarrel with such a proposal at this point. “We are going to cooperate, NGCP will cooperate with Congress and the Energy Committee and we will air our concerns and reactions at the proper time and in the proper forum.