SONA wake-up call for improved telco services

‘Expropriation’ warning wake-up call to telcos.

SENATOR Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Tuesday advised telecommunications companies to treat President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement as a wake-up call to improve their services to the public.

Lacson said one thing in the President’s statement on the issue is certain and true: "that our country’s telecommunications services pale in comparison with our neighbors and with other jurisdictions in terms of speed and efficiency."

The senator reminded that thr President't threat had worked in the past citing Mighty’s P40-billion tax settlement; Philippine Airlines' settling a P6-billion obligation to the government; the Mile Long property taken over by government; and the rehabilitation of Boracay.

"Whether the government takeover of telcos is justified and compliant with the provisions of the Constitution, given the circumstances, is another matter altogether, however," he said.

Meanwhile, Lacson said the President failed to issue a similar warning to some local government unit executives who extort money from the telcos in exchange for permits and licenses as well as "protection" from delays in the construction of such facilities, especially in areas where the presence of armed groups like the CPP-NPA is strong.

On the other hand, Senator Francis Pangilinan said threatening telcos with expropriation after shutting down the largest media network while displaying sheer government incompetence and failure in managing  the COVID-19 response will only scare foreign and local investors from doing business in the Philippines and further hamper economic recovery.

Senator Ralph Recto believes that government expropriation is not the solution.

"Government has a terrible record in operating telecoms. Promoting competition is the way forward," Recto said.