By Victor V. Saulon

NATIONAL Transmission Corp. (TransCo) said privately owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has agreed to include the state owner of the country’s power transmission network in the national broadband plan.
“We agreed not to quarrel on it,” said Melvin A. Matibag, TransCo president and chief executive officer, in an informal gathering with reporters on Wednesday at the Philippine National Oil Co. compound in Bonifacio Global City.
He said a memorandum of agreement (MoA) has been prepared on the national broadband plan, which now involves TransCo. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is the project’s implementing agency.
The memorandum has yet to be signed by the three parties, Mr. Matibag said, adding that NGCP still has to present the agreement before its board. He said he was talking with NGCP officer-in-charge President and CEO Anthony L. Almeda on the transaction.
“Signing will depend on the schedule of NGCP board meeting,” he said.
“We’re targeting it [to be signed] before the end of the month,” Mr. Matibag said, adding that TransCo’s legal department was sorting out details of the MoA.
The development comes about two months after TransCo expressed fears that NGCP could “dangerously exert its economic and political dominance in the country” if allowed to enter into a bilateral agreement to implement the national broadband plan.
Mr. Matibag in February told Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi that his office “strongly” opposed NGCP’s contention that it would allow only a bilateral agreement between itself and the DICT in the broadband plan.
TransCo’s position was contained in a letter sent to Mr. Cusi dated Feb. 5 after the secretary sought Mr. Matibag’s comment on an earlier letter from NGCP to the Department of Energy.
Mr. Matibag had said NGCP’s “distorted legal position” runs counter to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), NGCP’s franchise law and the concession agreement that granted the Sy-led company the right to handle power transmission in the country.
NGCP has an exclusive 50-year franchise to operate, maintain and expand the country’s transmission network. It has a fiber-optic system for internal communication, which it offered to be used under the broadband plan for free.
NGCP had said that negotiations with DICT, which started as early as May 2017, had stalled when TransCo insisted on being part of the talks. It said there was no authority for TransCo’s involvement, adding that when the government privatized the transmission network, all rights over the assets, except their title, were turned over to NGCP as the concessionaire.
“One of the provision(s), which is important I think, is we agreed that in any way the memorandum of agreement will not affect any claims by both TransCo and NGCP, and cannot be used as evidence in any forum to the other claims except for the purpose that we want to push for the broadband project,” Mr. Matibag said.
Ang purpose lang nito (The MoA’s sole purpose) is the desire of the administration to come up with better [telecommunication] service,” he added.
He said a meeting among TransCo, NGCP and DICT is scheduled next week to discuss the memorandum of agreement.