No 90-day 3rd telco deadline for Congress

January 31, 2019

SENATOR Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero confirmed with the Department of Information Communications and Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) during the third telco hearing on Wednesday that Congress is not bound by the 90-day deadline of the new major player (NMP).

“Sec. Rio, in your term of reference,  you gave the winning bidder 90 days to comply. Is Congress bound by your 90 days? You mean to say, we have 90 days to approve to give consent to the transfer? And, if we don’t give it, lapsed na sila?” asked Escudero.    

“No, your honor. 90 days was just an estimate,” answered DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr.

This came about due to Section 10 of NTC’s Memorandum Circular 09-09-2018 as to the Issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) -- which requires the country’s NMP Mislatel to obtain congressional approval for the sale or transfer of capital stock vesting controlling equity interests in another entity as may be required in its congressional franchise.

The congressional approval is just one of the requirements which Mislatel has to submit within a period of 90 calendar days from Mislatel’s confirmation, issued on November 19, 2018, as the NMP.

With that, Escudero asked, this time, the NTC, “will you consider this force majeure beyond the control of Mislatel? For example, because again, we cannot be bound by your TOR to do certain things within a certain period, neither can you take that against them too, would that be correct, Sir?”

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba simply agreed with Escudero that the Senate cannot be bound by the deadline, which is set on February 17, 2019.

Asked how he would view the senator’s dilemma, Cordoba explained that “if Mislatel has complied with all its obligations, and one matter, which is pending is beyond their control-- which is the congressional approval -- then we would have to wait for the final action of Congress on it.”

In a separate press statement, Sen. Grace Poe said “ayokong pangunahan lahat kasi botohan ‘yan. May kanya-kanyang opinyon tungkol diyan, basta ang akin lang ipiniprisinta ko ito... Ayoko munang pangunahan ang magiging desisyon kasi hindi ako ang may monopoliya kung ano ang tama. Kailangan kong dinggin ang iba’t ibang mga naging diskusyon ngayon, mabasa lahat uli at mabalikan.”

She added that the Senate may also “cure the defect and questions” surrounding the legality of Mislatel’s franchise.

“We have to cure perhaps the provision not just only Mislatel but the general franchise provision to make it clear who has the power to ipso facto revoke,” said Poe.

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