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Duterte chill on China’s NGCP role

The Chief Executive said he is convinced China’s only concern in the Philippines is to conduct business and help supply the nation with more energy.

Francis Wakefield

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It’s all business.

And President Rodrigo Duterte isn’t bothered by news that China can or would shut down the national grid.

The Chief Executive said he is convinced China’s only concern in the Philippines is to conduct business and help supply the nation with more energy.

In a televised interview, Mr. Duterte allayed fears as he clarified that there is no reason for China to meddle with the management of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Earlier, retired Supreme Court (SC) senior associate justice Antonio Carpio expressed that China’s ability to control the Philippines’ power source through the NGCP should be a “cause for concern.”

He warned that this may cause a national security breach.

This is more likely to happen, according to Carpio, if “the Chinese maintain our national grid,” therefore making it easy for them to “shut it down.”

The NGCP is the one operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid where electricity flows from power plants to distribution utilities, businesses and households nationwide.

“The grid, China is only there to help. We really can’t do it,” the President said. “You want a better one, better service, you want more energy distributed? China offered to help. And we accepted it.”

“It’s business. What’s the purpose of business? To spy? It’s to make money for China. And for us,” Mr. Duterte reiterated.

“What would be a possible reason that China would spy or cut the grid? I would ask China. I’d like to address myself, respectfully, to President Xi Jinping. What could be the reason? Because I do not believe that you’d do it. But if there is, what could be a reason for you to cut. I know now,” he added.

At the same time, the President expressed belief that China is listening to us without using the grid to spy.

“Right now, they are listening to us, through satellites. Without using the grid, they spy,” the President said.

“They know. I know because I have talked to him. And as a matter of fact, they offered to give me a cellphone that won’t be hacked. I do not want the people to suspect that again,” he narrated.

President Duterte, in a previous interview, said security issues concerning China’s stakes in the NGCP can be handled by the military.

“I don’t believe in Carpio. He had nothing sensible to say. What did he say that was able to help the Philippines?” the President asked.

Last September, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and new telecom provider, Dito Telecommunity Corp., signed a memorandum of agreement to put up towers within the military installations.

This prompted several parties to raise protests, arguing that the facilities that the consortium of businessman Dennis Uy, China Telecom, Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and Udenna Corp. will build might be used for espionage.

The military downplayed these concerns and maintained that the agreement was “not exclusive” as the AFP also has a similar arrangement with other telecommunications firms.

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