After months of radio silence, it seems there are new developments in the “third telco” war. Spoiler alert: There is no clear winner yet.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (
According to Drilon, the consortium violated certain conditions that would make the franchise valid, specifically the part where it must be in operation one year after the license has been awarded by the Congress.
“The franchise of
“Here you have a situation where there is no existing franchise because of the violations of the grantee of the conditions imposed in the franchise because they did not operate. And there was no congressional approval for the transfer of the controlling interest,” Drilon said.
The government gave
- Commence operations within one (1) year from the approval of its permit by the National Telecommunications Commission;
- Operate continuously for two (2) years; and
- Commence operations within three (3) years from the effectivity of this Act.
Although it has been around since 1998, the company has neither started its operations nor built any infrastructure that will support its business. However,
“The company was ready to roll out in Parang, Maguindanao in 2003 but the peace and order situation in that area did not allow the company to operate,” Escalante said.
No prior approval
In addition to failing to comply with the provided timetable in the congressional franchise, the company, according to Drilon, cannot transfer controlling interests to other parties without prior approval of the Congress.
Section 15 of the Republic Act No. 8485 says that
A report by BusinessWorld revealed that the original five incorporators of
According to Drilon, the incorporators issued 70 percent of shares to new investors in 2015, effectively giving them controlling stake over the company. The new investors included company president Nicanor Escalante as well as his other company CTE Vector Holdings.
“The transfer of control in
Other members of the Senate like Senators Grace Poe-Llamanzares and Antonio Trillanes IV also expressed their concerns regarding Mislatel’s seemingly rubberstamped approval. Poe said that the Senate will handle the issue as soon as possible and the committee will try to release a resolution no later than February 17.
Meanwhile, Trillanes remains to criticize the government for picking the consortium due to its ties with President Rodrigo Duterte. According to the senator, the administration cherry-picking
Countering the arguments of the senators, DICT chief Eliseo Rio said that the comments said by Drilon and others were “far from the truth.”
In a Facebook post, Rio said that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) wrote the Congress that Mislatel’s franchise is “still valid.”
“In other words, since there is no declaration of revocation by competent authorities, NTC has no right to consider the franchise as revoked as the presumption of regularity and the validity of the franchise must be respected,” Rio said.
“Also, the Supreme Court has already ruled that since a franchise is a property right, there must be due process for it to be revoked, notwithstanding the ipso facto provision.