By FLORO M. MERCENE
During the recent Senate hearings, outgoing acting Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.’s strategy was exposed on the so-called “common towers” policy. It was not to lift the limit on the number of telco companies but to have no regulation at all, contradicting President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the Cabinet’s stand for an independent Common Tower Policy.
Rio’s unwillingness to implement the President’s position seems a formula for him to suffer the same fate of ousted Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, his former boss in the DICT,
Salalima went against the President’s position for a third telco, saying that a duopoly is enough. The former Globe executive hired Rio to join him as Undersecretary in DICT three years ago.
Rio’s bio-data posted in ITU Switzerland website shows he was a “Globe consultant from 2007 up to present”.
President Duterte gave “RJ” Jacinto–adviser on economic affairs and information and communications technology–authority “to take charge and oversee the government’s implementation of the Common Tower Policy,through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)”.
With the advice of the most reputable worldwide tower companies, Jacinto came out with the proposed guidelines for a Common Tower Policy in July 4, 2018. Rio approved the guidelines then held a joint press conference the next day.
Jacinto, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and the National Security Agency has softened his stance so the government guidelines would accommodate up to five tower companies.
But Rio insisted during a Senate hearing that there should be no government regulation at all, contradicting Duterte and Jacinto.
In the Senate Public Services Committee hearing called by Senator Grace Poe, Rio said he supports a free-for-all competition among tower builders, which Jacinto believes would only give existing telco operators control of the tower roll-out program again.
Rio became uncooperative,industry sources said, and started to mouth the line of the two existing telecommunications companies, sensing he would be replaced by Sen. Gregorio Honasan.
Rio should wait for Honasan to take over DICT to make the formal policy decision since Honasan would be supervising the tower building program when he formally takes over the DICT.