Duterte sticks to target to have 3rd telco player by next month
President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the request of Department of Information and Communications Technology Officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio Jr. that his office be given two more months to award the license to a third telecommunications player.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during the Cabinet meeting on Monday in Malacanang, Rio formally requested for the extension until May so that the third telco carrier would be "up and about."
"This was not approved in yesterday's Cabinet meeting. So we stick it out with the original time frame of a third telecoms player by March of this year," he said.
Duterte earlier ordered DICT and other concerned agencies to fast-track the entry of the third telco player and he wanted it done by first quarter of this year.
The President has offered China to be the third telco player. But the DICT has said that there were other foreign companies, such as from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, which also expressed interest.
While China has accepted the offer of Duterte by designating China Telecom, Roque clarified that the foreign firm has to comply with all the legal requirements, including its participation in the bidding.
"So, while we have offered it, they will participate in the bidding," he said, indicating that China Telecom was not yet sure that it would bag the contract.
"Well, let’s just say that let’s separate diplomatic from the day to day realities on the ground. So we honor our commitment as a sovereign state, but there has to be compliance with local procedures," Roque said.
Roque also said that Duterte has issued a stern warning against those "detractors" on the entry of third telco player in the country.
"The President was emphatic and issued a warning to the detractors of the entry of the third telecoms player not to test the will of government," he said as he refused to name the detractors.
He said Duterte was "displeased" that the frequencies freely given to a certain company has to be bought back by government in order that the third player could be awarded these frequencies.
"The President rejected that proposal, that we pay for frequencies that we gave out for free and he warned everyone involved not to test the resolve of the President in allowing a third telecoms carrier to enter the country," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS