President Duterte declines hack-proof cellphone from China

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday bared that he declined a hack-proof cellphone offered to him by the Chinese government acknowledging the country’s ability to commit espionage.

Duterte made this remark allaying fears over China’s co-ownership of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), a private consortium that manages and operates the Philippines’ power grid.

“Right now, they (China) are listening to us, satellites, without using the grid, the spies, they know, I know because I have talked to him (Chinese President Xi Jinping),” Duterte said in an interview over GMA’s Unang Hirit.

“They offered to give me a cellphone that could not be hacked,” he added.

He said he declined the hack-proof cellphone because he did not want Filipinos to suspect he was hiding anything from them.

“I do not want the people suspect that I have secrets,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated that the public should not be alarmed over China’s co-ownership NGCP emphasizing that it was purely done for “business” and no plans to stop the power grid’s operations.

“I will ask China now. I’d like to address myself, respectfully to President Xi, what could be the reason because I do not believe that they will do,” Duterte said.

“But if there is, what could be the reason for you to cut. What could be the possible reason that China would spy or cut the grid?” he added.

Earlier, Duterte pointed out that there is no basis for China to take actions that are detrimental to its ties with Manila.

While he considers China as a “friend,” the President would not hesitate to pick a fight against China, in case it shuts down the transmission lines.

Currently, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is no directive from the President to investigate China’s co-ownership of the NGCP.

He said the executive branch would let the Department of National Defense and the National Security Council assess whether the issue can be considered as a “pressing national concern.”

China’s State Grid Corp. controls 40 percent of the NGCP, which supervises the management and operation of the country’s power transmission lines owned by state-owned National Transmission Corp.

Last week, former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned of Beijing’s co-ownership of the NGCP due to its capability to shut down the Philippines’ power grid.

The NGCP clarified the State Grid Corporation of China’s role is limited to being a “technical adviser” while Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said such claim was “completely groundless.”