Now that the Court of Appeals has ruled that the P69-billion sale of San Miguel Corporation‘s (SMC) sale of its telco assets to Philippine Long Distance Telecom Co. and Globe Telecom is “deemed approved by operation of law,” we look forward to the two telco firms to go all-out with their programs to speed up their services.
The Philippine Competition Commission in June, 2016, had sought a review of the P69-billion sale and asked the two telcos to submit documents on the transaction. It later said the papers they submitted were defective in form and substance and that their notification to the PCC was not sufficiently compliant with PCC requirements.
Last October 18, 2017, the CA directed the PCC to cease and desist from conducting any further review as it deemed the sale as compliant with the PCC’s own memorandum circulars mandating parties in transactions amounting to more than P1 billion to notify the PCC.
It has been 17 months since the P6-billion deal that allowed PLDT and Globe to acquire the 700-megaherz frequency that would have enabled the two firms to greatly improve their services. The two firms had been given one year to do this by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) but the legal action taken by the PCC stopped all improvement programs making use of the new frequency.
In its decision last month, the Court of Appeals acknowledged the respective powers of the NTC and the PCC. The NTC has the power and technical expertise to allocate radio frequencies, while the PCC has authority to determine the competition-related aspects of such allocation but may not review the NTC’s allocation decisions. The two agencies should consult each other, “guided by the overarching goals of promoting market efficiency and promoting the consumers’ welfare, with a keen awareness that overzealous intervention by regulatory agencies may deter and hamper the very goals they seek to achieve,” the court said.
This reminder is for the two regulatory agencies. For the two telecommunication firms – PLDT and Globe – the court decision should serve as a signal to begin carrying out their long-delayed plans to greatly improve their services.
Many other problems stand in their way, including government red tape that is holding back the erection of towers and cell sites. But the Court of Appeals decision should enable the two telco firms to now make full use of the 700-megahertz frequency they acquired from San Miguel last year.