NICA-NGCP deal boosts cybersecurity

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (middle) and Department of National Defense Secretary Carlito G. Galvez (standing right), witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between National Grid Corporation of the Philippines president and chief executive officer Anthony Almeda (left) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director, retired Gen. Ricardo de Leon, at Malacañang Palace on Monday, 13 March. Under the MoU, the NGCP, a privately owned corporation taking the lead in the operations of the country’s state-owned power grid, will provide technical assistance to NICA, especially on energy-related security issues, contributing to the agency’s endeavors in cybersecurity. | Noel B. Pabalate/PPA POOL

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday assured the public that his administration will continue to strengthen the country’s capabilities to safeguard its infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The President made the assurance during the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in Malacañang.

Marcos cited the importance of developing cyber systems to ensure that the data collected and disseminated within the country is handled securely without risking it being used against the Philippines.

“We do our business through cyberspace, and that is why we are continuing to shore up our defenses when it comes to cybersecurity,” he said.

NGCP’s involvement in securing the country’s power transmission system, he said, is a critical part of the Philippines’ ability to function as a society, marking an important milestone in the country’s continuing efforts to protect itself against attacks in cyberspace.

“Since NGCP is a critical part of our security, of our ability to continue to function as a society, then this is an important day because now we have made more robust the defenses against any possible attacks on our power systems, on any other of the elements in our everyday lives that require power,” Marcos said.

He thanked NGCP for taking the initiative and praised NICA for its efforts in ensuring the country’s safety and security.

“Let this be an example to all the other sectors that could be assessed to be at risk when it comes to cybersecurity,” he said.

Ensuring Phl safety

NGCP president and CEO Anthony Almeda, a former classmate of the President, expressed his gratitude for the partnership.

“We are grateful for the trust and confidence bestowed upon us by the government, and we take our responsibility as a critical infrastructure provider seriously,” Almeda said.

The MoU between NICA and NGCP defines the requirements of intelligence services to ensure the country’s safety and security, and sends a signal to other sectors that the Philippines is committed to strengthening its cybersecurity infrastructure.

Under the MoU, NICA is tasked with integrating collected intelligence information from various government instrumentalities, making an analysis, assessing the data, and recommending actions in safeguarding NGCP’s transmission assets.

Conversely, the NGCP will share vital information on energy-related security issues and provide technical advice to NICA.

Through the MoU, NICA commits to supply NGCP with intelligence information to support the protection of power transmission assets that NGCP operates and maintains across the country, while it commits to provide technical assistance to NICA to support and strengthen its cyber security capability.

NGCP forged the MoU with NICA to deal effectively with attacks by lawless elements after it experienced sabotage and bombing incidents that resulted in injury to its personnel and military escorts patrolling the transmission operator’s area of jurisdiction.

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s state-owned power grid, an interconnected system that transmits gigawatts of power in thousands of volts from generators to consumers.

On the other hand, NICA is the primary intelligence gathering and analysis arm of the government carrying out overt, covert, and clandestine intelligence activities.

NICA directs, coordinates, and integrates all government activities involving national intelligence and serves as the focal point for the preparation of intelligence data of local and foreign situations which serve as inputs and guide to the day-to-day decision and policy-making functions of the President as well as other entities.

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