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Manila court denies Now’s plea to stop telco auction

A Manila Regional Trial Court has denied the petition of Now Telecom Co. Inc. to temporarily stop the selection process for the new major player in the telecommunications sector. 

Presiding Judge Dinnah Aguila-Topacio of Manila RTC Branch 42 denied the petition of Now Telecom for the issuance of a 20-day temporary restraining order for “lack of urgency in the meantime justifying such a provisional remedy.” 

“The court notes that the bidding process for the selection of the new major player under NTC Memorandum Circular No. 09-09-2018 is yet scheduled for November 7, 2018. From the time of the issuance of this order until the said time, there will still be ample opportunity for plaintiff [Now Telecom] to prove its entitlement to the issuance  of an injunction,” Aguila-Topacio said. 

“Verily, as yet, there is practically nothing to enjoin that will warrant the grant of obtaining such injunctive relief from this court at this time... ,” she added. 

“Such a fact underscores the lack of any urgency on the part of plaintiff [Now Telecom],” said Aguila-Topacio 

The court set the hearing for preliminary prohibitionary injunction on October 23  and 24 this year. 

Businessman Mel Velarde’s Now Telecom questioned certain provisions in the terms of reference for the selection of a new major player in the sector, saying the rules violated existing laws and could also be declared onerous, confiscatory and potentially extortionary. 

China Telecom, Mobiltel Holdings GmBH, Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., the joint venture of businessman Chavit Singson’s LSC Group of Companies and TierOne Communications Norway’s Telenor Group and an undisclosed company have purchased bid documents.

The submission and opening of bid documents is set on November 7 this year. 

Under the final terms of reference issued by NTC and DICT, the potential bidders will be chosen based on the highest committed level of service for over a period of five years. 

The three criteria are national population coverage with a weight of 40 percent, minimum average broadband speed at 25 percent and capital and operating expenditure at 35 percent. 

The rules stated that the minimum population coverage for the first year should be 10 percent, a figure that should reach 50 percent by the fifth year.

The new player is expected to invest a minimum of P40 billion in the first year and P240 billion in five years.

The selection committee will use a point system based on the documents submitted by the potential players. The bidders should post a participation fee of P700 million, or equivalent to 0.5 percent of the minimum capital and operational expenditure at the end of the commitment period.

Topics: Manila Regional Trial Court , Now Telecom Co. Inc. , telco auction
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