False, inaccurate, misleading editorials on the NGCP
On Feb. 11, 2020, your newspaper published an editorial titled “Audit the NGCP,” claiming that the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has brazenly defied and continues to refuse to submit to a government audit, and calling NGCP “an enterprise whose suspicious behavior and murky state of affairs have become inimical to the public interest.” The Inquirer does the Filipino people a great disservice in its publication of this editorial, the third in a series riddled with factual inaccuracies and misleading statements. NGCP has consistently expressed its willingness to undergo an audit in accordance with law. It does not control the National Grid and System Operations outside of the government’s oversight. In fact, NGCP has allowed the conduct of regular and periodic inspections by both PSALM and TransCo on matters subject of the Concession Agreement. When there was an accusation by TransCo that NGCP’s fiber-optic facilities were being used by third parties at a profit without informing the government, NGCP opened itself to an inspection by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Moreover, a security audit has recently been conducted on NGCP by a composite team headed by the National Security Council, which included representatives from the DICT, the AFP Cyber Command, and the Philippine Regulatory Commission. This was confirmed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. during the hearing of the Senate committee on energy on Feb. 3, 2020.
Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Agnes Devanadera also made a pronouncement at the said Senate hearing that funds have been allocated for a system audit of NGCP, and that the ERC is in the process of finalizing the Terms of Reference therefor. In 2016, the ERC already issued a resolution directing an independent third party audit of the System Operations of NGCP. However, the audit did not push through for reasons not attributable to NGCP. Nonetheless, NGCP submits to the ERC’s authority to conduct a comprehensive inspection and audit.
We also take this opportunity to clarify that the cybersecurity incidents and malware detected by NGCP and referred to during the Senate hearing were only detected in NGCP’s corporate network. All such detected malwares were cleaned and prevented from spreading and all web threats were blocked. On the other hand, NGCP’s transmission-related system or its SCADA network had zero cybersecurity incidents primarily because it is disconnected from the internet and operates in a secure private network.
Moreover, it is not true as the editorial claims that, “SGCC somehow managed to translate portions of the operation manual to Mandarin, leaving Filipino workers unable to operate and control the system.” When the updated SCADA system was procured by NGCP, the operating manuals of transmission equipment were in the Chinese language, as the equipment was procured from China. But the operating manuals have also been translated to English to allow NGCP engineers to confirm the delivery of all its system specifications and to operate the system themselves.
Finally, NGCP maintains that the previous employment of Mr. Wen Bo, along with other alien workers, was in accordance with the Constitution and applicable laws. Mr. Wen, et al. directly reported to Filipino executive officers of NGCP. They provided expert advice on technical matters subject to the approval of the said Filipino executive officers.
Mr. Wen, along with the other alien workers previously with NGCP, who were all technical personnel, were employed by NGCP only after the requisite authorizations, visas and permits were obtained from relevant government agencies. The DOE itself, through indorsements, recommended the issuance of these authorizations, visas and permits.
The Feb. 11, 2020, editorial and the two editorials that preceded it, which were published on Nov. 26 and Dec. 4, 2019, appear to have been based primarily on the statements of Senators Win Gatchalian and Risa Hontiveros. The falsehoods peddled by these editorials and the bias evident in the fact that NGCP was not given any space or any meaningful opportunity to present its side undermine the credibility of the Inquirer. I urge the Inquirer and its journalists to adhere to the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, and fairness in their reporting.
ANTHONY L. ALMEDA,
president and CEO, NGCP
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