Poe leaves hanging fate of third telco

Grace Poe

THE Senate Committee on Public Services yesterday ended the public hearing on the awarding of the third telecommunication contract to Mislatel Consortium but left hanging whether the firm’s franchise will be considered or withdrawn.

In a chance interview after the session, Senator Grace Poe, the committee chairperson, said that she will first consult the members of the committee regarding Mislatel’s franchise.

“And I strongly believe that Congress—the Senate and the Lower House—really has the authority to either revoke or grant the franchise so if we will go by that, then certainly we can…we would be able to grant them the authority,” Poe said.

She added that they are weighing the clamor of the people for another telco that can provide a faster and cheaper internet service as against the possibility that Mislatel’s franchise can be questioned in court.

If the committee will recognize Mislatel’s franchise, Poe said that the consortium cannot get back its P27-billion bond if it cannot deliver on its promise of better telecom service.

“Ngayon, iniisip ko rin ang gusto ng ating mga kababayan na magkaroon ng mas mabilis na internet, mas mura. Papayagan natin ‘yan dahil malaking sugal naman ito sa Mislatel kung saka-sakali kung hindi nila matugunan ang kanilang serbisyo na ipinangako e mawawala at least P27 billion sa kanila kaagad-agad,” Poe explained.

“Pero wina-warningan ko rin sila na sinabi ko kapag kinuwestiyon ‘yan sa Korte maaaring maantala so ‘yun ang nagiging issue ngayon,” she added.

Meanwhile, Poe also admitted that with the issue surrounding Mislatel’s foreign ownership, the approval of the amendments to the Public Service Act that will allow 100 percent foreign ownership of public services may hit a snag.

“Kaya nga nade-delay ngayon ang Public Service Act bill. Dati parang mas malakas na ang suporta dito pero ngayon may mga kasamahan ako sa Senado at di ko sila masisisi sa dami ng interes ng China sa ating bansa,” Poe said.