By Daniel Llanto

At a series of Senate hearings on the questioned Chinese control of power distribution in the Philippines through the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), senators accused NGCP of clear violation of the Constitution for allowing a Chinese national to hold the second-highest position in the company, consequently with a revocation warning of its franchise.

Senators Richard Gordon and Sherwin Gatchalian revealed that one Wen Bo had signed contracts as chief technical officer of the Chinese-dominated company. They said the day may not be far off when NGCP would remotely access the country’s power grid to sabotage it.

Gordon cited a contract for the Luzon Substation Expansion Project 3 which was signed between the NGCP and the Xian Electric Engineering Company Limited. He noted that the 2011 document was only signed in the presence of Anthony Almeda, who is the president and chief executive officer of the NGCP.

“As a lawyer parang umiiwas pusoy ‘yan . Foreigner ang pumipirma and then when you look at the final agreement ang nakalagay pa rin the same personalities,” Gordon pointed out.

“I’d like to know why…When you make contracts, walang Pilipino. Parang angnagpapatakbo ‘yung 40 percent are Chinese, ‘yung 60 percent na Pilipino wala,” he added.

The NGCP, which runs and maintains the country’s electricity grid, is 40 percent owned by the State Grid Corp. of China.

Gatchalian, who led the hearings as chair of the Senate energy committee, cited Section 11, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “all executive and managing officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines.”

He then asked Almeda if there were instances that any Chinese national held executorial or managerial positions in the NGCP.

Almeda said the NGCP was “100 percent” managed by Filipinos.

But Gatchalian cited the organizational table of the NGCP which showed that the position of the chief technical officer was only “one position below chief executive officer.”

“So that means the chief technical officer is an executive and management position?” Gatchalian asked Almeda.

Almeda answered in the affirmative but quickly noted that Wen Bo was acting as a consultant for the company.

Sabi niyo kanina walang instance na merong Chinese na nasa executive and management position as prescribed by the Constitution but in this document may isangWen Bo,” Gatchalian said, referring to the Luzon Substation Expansion Project 3 contract presented by Gordon.

“And in your table of organization, he’s the second highest. Can you explain this?” he added.

“This is a violation of the Constitution. All executive and managing officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines. Very clear ‘yan. That is a safeguard,” he said.

Gatchalian also said Wen Bo made a manpower request under his designation as chief technical officer.

“As you can see, he’s exercising executive functions by requesting people. It’s enshrined in our Constitution, simply put, those management and executive functions should remain with Filipinos,” he said.

NGCP Assistant Corporate Sec. Ronald Concepcion  argued that when NGCP took over the transmission functions of operating the country’s power grid, its Chinese partners were given a special visa. He said they were given authority by the Department of Justice “for a certain period.”

But Gordon and Sen. Risa Hontiveros, unconvinced by the company reasoning, called for a thorough investigation into NGCP operations.

Gatchalian pointed out that the position of chief technical officer oversees crucial aspects of the NGCP.

“Ito na ho ‘yung pinakabituka ng grid eh, and then iba po yung nakaposisyon ‘dun sabituka ng ating transmission line,” he said.

“Bakit ho napunta sa isang dayuhan ang pamamalakad at pamamahala ng bituka ngating transmission line? Why was a foreigner assigned?” he added.