Senate affirms Mislatel change of ownership
The Senate concurred with a House resolution on Wednesday formalizing the sale of the controlling interest of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) to a consortium of businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Holdings Corp. and the state-run China Telecommunications Corp.
Voting against the resolution were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who interpellated vice chair for Committee on Public Services Chiz Escudero on the franchise transfer; Senator Ping Lacson and Senator Risa Hontiveros.
"The NMP (new market player) is committed to providing Filipinos with unprecedented and unparalleled quality of telecommunications services, made possible only by the organizational unity, fiscal cooperation and technology transfer between and among Mislatel and its committed investors," the resolution stated.
Drilon cited Mislatel's failure to comply with its conditions. He said the franchise is "ipso facto revoked" due to its failure to operate since granted franchise in 1998 and selling 70 percent control without seeking approval from Congress.
"There are commitments made by Mislatel on its obligation as a third telco which goes beyond the expiration of its franchise," he added.
Mislatel previously explained it could not continue its operation a year after the franchise was granted because of the peace and order situation in Mindanao
Thirty-five percent of Mislatel's franchise will be owned by Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp will get 25 percent while China Telecom will hold 40 percent.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, earlier said her panel removed any reference to Mislatel as the third telecommunications player or a new major player.
"We took out anything that pertains to calling Mislatel a new major player or third telco. We're treating it as a regular franchise because later on someone might got to the court and say Congress recognized Mislatel as the third telco," Poe said.
According to Poe, despite the Senate's green light on Mislatel's operation, legal remedies by other parties are still welcomed in the courts.
Poe, who conducted four hearings on the ownership transfer, clarifies that the resolution will not avert the Congress from "altering, modifying, amending or repealing Mislatel's franchise granted under Republic Act 8627" if it fails to comply to the commitments it made regarding coverage and internet speed.
The Senate approval will also not cause the automatic renewal of Mislatel's frasnchise which will expire in 2023. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS