By Roy Mabasa
President Duterte today instructed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to fast-track the entry of the third telecom player to the Philippines to “foster competition in the market.”
“I want this implemented during the first quarter of 2018,” Duterte said in a statement.
The President also directed the NTC to start putting together the terms of reference for the bidding of all remaining telco frequencies.
To further hasten the process, Duterte instructed all national and regional government agencies and local governments to issue the required permits within seven days upon complete submission of requirements.
He said the order also applies to incumbent telecom players.
“If the permits are not issued within seven days, the permits are deemed approved,” Duterte said.
The President also warned the courts not to cause further delay in the application of the third telco player which he said is a “matter of national interest.”
“I do not want the courts to interfere and prolong this process. Do not issue any TROs or injunctions. This is a matter of national interest for the benefit of the public,” he said.
Quickly responding to Duterte’s order, DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said his office and the NTC can have a third telco player operational by early March 2018 “to compete with the duopoly as per desire of PRRD.”
“It would help a lot if a strong statement comes from the President that for the benefit of the people, he wants the third player to compete ASAP, and ordering NGAs (national government agencies) and LGUs (local government units) not to delay issuing permits to the new player as well as to existing players, Globe and Smart,” Rio said in a message.
“Also, TROs and injunctions that may unnecessarily delay the improvement of telecom services must be discouraged,” he added.
The DICT secretary assured that the selection process of the third telco player would be “very transparent and well defined.”
“That there’ll be no doubt at all the selected telco consortium will be the best to compete against the duopoly,” he further said.
Earlier, the DICT announced that the Chinese government has selected China Telecom to invest in the Philippines upon the invitation of Duterte.
The invitation was conveyed during the Philippines-China bilateral meeting on November 16 between Duterte and then visiting Chinese Premier Li Quekiang.
Due to Constitutional prohibition on foreign corporation ownership, the Chinese company would need to partner with a local firm.