Philippine Competition Commission against Philippine Competition Commission’s duopoly

November 13, 2018
Ramon Jacinto
Ramon Jacinto

THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) strongly opposed the proposal of Presidential Adviser on ICT Ramon Jacinto to limit to just two the number of independent and private companies that would be allowed to build cell site towers in the country.

Commissioner Johannes Bernabe said the PCC does not agree to the duopoly proposal of Jacinto because that would be “too limiting” since the construction of telco towers has been granted franchise by Congress.

The statement of PCC, which is part of the oversight committee of the telco industry, was in response to the request of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for PCC’s comments on the draft Common Tower Policy.

The PCC’s belief that there should be no limit to the construction of cell site towers was also the sentiment in Congress.

Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay of the 1st District of Surigao del Sur assured  the towercos duopoly plan won’t be approved in Congress.

“Iyong gusto na dalawa lang (towercos), dadaan din ‘yan sa Kongreso, pero most probably hindi papayagan ‘yan kasi mas mabilis kung everybody can put up (common tower) saka mabigyan pa ang taumbayan ng livelihood o trabaho at mapagkakakitaan,” said Pichay.

Pichay also reminded those government bright boys behind the duopoly of private cellsite providers that the franchise of the existing telcos granted by Congress includes their right to build and operate line towers, and as such no memorandum circular from the DICT and NTC can remove that right without violating the Congressional Enactment.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe and former House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chairman Rep. Johnny Pimentel of the 2nd District of Surigao del Sur both labeled Jacinto’s proposal as “stupid idea.”

“Dito sa cell towers, mayroon kasing isang nag-suggest sa Presidente yata o sa DICT na dapat ay isang kompanya o dalawang kompanya lang ang puwedeng magpatayo ng cell towers. Kalokohan ‘yon,” stressed Poe during the hearing of Senate Committee on Public Service which she chairs.

The lady senator also insisted that all telecommunications companies  should be allowed to build their own cell towers.

Pimentel, for his part, insisted the duopoly plan will not prosper.

“For me, kalokohan lang ‘yan kung ganoon. I don’t agree with that plan, for me it is a stupid proposal. Iyon kasi ang mahirap, kung anu-ano ang pumapasok sa isipan natin,” said Pimentel.

The so-called ‘Makabayan bloc’ in Congress had also questioned the towercos duopoly proposal.

According to Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, it would only be another mistake for the government should it continue forcing the controversial issue.

In a separate but similar position, Globe and Smart Communications, Inc. strongly opposed towercos duopoly as it will violate their congressional franchise.

A complaint was also filed with the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to have Jacinto investigated for conflict of interest in pushing for a towercos duopoly.

The complainant, Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance was also asking the PACC to look into Jacinto’s past transactions with both private and state banks while working with the government which, according to FLAG founder Edwin Cordevilla, might form part of business malpractices.

Jacinto, who’s presently acting as presidential adviser on information technology, used to work with the Ramos government between 1992 and 1998 as presidential adviser on flagship projects.