Gov't takeover of NGCP could be prone to corruption, Gatchalian warns

Published June 11, 2021, 3:01 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said he has “grave reservations” over the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposal to revert the control of the country’s power grid back to the government.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, pointed out corruption was the main reason why the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) took over the grid from then state-run National Transmission Corp. in 2009.

During a recent energy panel hearing, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi proposed that the government should again control of the system operations of the NGCP.

Cusi also called for a review of the franchise granted to the NGCP as he lamented it’s failure to secure firm contracted power reserves and delays in transmission projects.

“I have a lot of reservations, grave reservations in government stepping back into business because when government steps into business, corruption ensues and that is for sure,” said Gatchalian, in an interview over ANC Headstart.

“And the reason why the government moved out of the power sectors is because of corruption. Remember in the past, Napocor was saddled with trillions of pesos of debts, because of corruption and we don’t want that to happen,” he said.

The senator said he is more open to strengthening the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and bringing in more power and more budget to perform its mandate.

“So my take on that is I have a lot of reservations in going back to the power sector. What I am open to is strengthening the DOE, strengthening ERC and bringing in more power and more budget to perform its mandate,” he said.

Nevertheless, Gatchalian commended Cusi for coming up with very comprehensive solutions “from review of franchise all the way to the government stepping back to generation.”

“I have to give him credit. That means the government is putting a lot of brain power in reforming the power sector,” he said.