Duterte wants third telco player by Q1 2018, asks court not to issue TROs
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered concerned government agencies to allow entry of the third telecommunications player by the first quarter of 2018.
This as Duterte told the judiciary, supposedly independent from the executive and legislative branches of government, not to interfere by issuing temporary restraining orders that will delay the entry of a new company.
"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," Duterte said in the directive, which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shared to the media on Tuesday.
Duterte instructed the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the National Telecommunication Commission to fast-track the entry of the third telecom player to foster competition in the market.
"I want this implemented during the first quarter of 2018," he said.
He said the NTC should start putting together terms of reference for the bidding of all the remaining telco frequencies.
"I am also instructing all national and regional government agencies and local governments to issue the required permits within seven days upon complete submission of requirements. This should also be the case for permits of incumbent telecom players. If the permits are not issued within seven days, the permits are deemed approved," he said.
In November, Duterte offered China to be the third telco player in the Philippines. China chose state-owned China Telecom.
But DICT Officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio Jr., in an interview with the Manila Shimbun in Malacanang, said it does not follow that China Telecom would be the third player.
He said it would be up to the Filipino consortium that would be formed to choose its foreign partner.
However, Rio admitted China Telecom is "one of the best contenders."
Rio said the government would come up with the criteria in choosing the best contender, taking into consideration its "capability financially and clout."
Under the Philippine Constitution, foreigners could only own up to 40 percent of a company, while the rest should be Filipino.
Rio also allayed concern on possible security breach if China Telecom would be the third player.
He noted that the two major telco players - Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart - have been using Chinese technology.
He said Globe is using Chinese Huawei system, while Smart's equipment were from China because they were cheap.
"So those who said that they (China) are not here, that's delusion," Rio said, stressing that what the government should do is to "strengthen our cyber security."
By first quarter of 2018, he said the DICT would choose a foreign partner to help the government improve its cyber security measures. Celerina Monte/DMS