No Duterte hand in 3rd telco player choice -- Palace

November 08, 2018
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

MALACAÑANG yesterday said the link between President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy did not play a role in the selection of the “provisional” third major telco player.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stressed that the selection of Uy’s consortium underwent proper bidding process without the intervention of Duterte.

“As we all know, relationship, alliances, friendships do not matter with this President. What matters with him is ‘you follow the law, I’ll be with you. You don’t follow the law, I’m against you,’” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“The President’s policy is not to interfere with his departments. The President has nothing to do with any of those biddings, any of those negotiations or contracts,” he added.

On Wednesday, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) selected Mislatel as the third telco player that would go up against PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.

Mislatel, which is composed of China Telecom, and Uy’s Udena Corp. and Chelsea Logistics, is among the three consortiums that offered bids to NTC.

Mislatel beat Tier1, backed by former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, and Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T).

Uy is the president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Petroleum and is reported to be among those who donated money to Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Selection process questioned

Opposition senators led by Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan yesterday expressed disapproval over the naming of the state-owned China Telecom as the provisional new major telecommunications provider in the country.

In a statement released by the office of Pangilinan, the senator together with Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, and Antono Trillanes IV questioned the selection process made by the administration.

"The selection of the joint venture of a Davao-based businessman and state-owned China Telecom as the provisional new major telecommunications player should be examined carefully," the senators said.

The government through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) decided on Wednesday to name the Mislatel Consortium as the provisional new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market.

"What qualified it in the first place? Why were the other bidders booted out? What is the track record of the winning bidder in the telecommunications business? Was the government opening up the bidding to other players just a formality?" were some of the questions posed by the senators.

"Masabi lang that the government went through the process? In December 2017, Malacañang said it wants the government to ensure that China Telecom can begin its Philippine operations by the first quarter of 2018. Ito na ba yun?" they added.

The senators then asked the government for transparency in the transaction since entering the telecom industry means giving access to a foreign corporation the daily communication activities of the people which they said is a "security issue for the country".

They added that the country needs more than one additional telecom player in order to properly service the tens of millions of Filipino consumers.

With Marlon Purificacion