The Supreme Court did not issue an immediate relief prayed for by the Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. to stop the government from awarding the third telco slot to Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co.
In a resolution, the SC deferred its ruling on the appeal of PT&T for immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent the National Telecommunications Commission from closing the bidding process and officially award the franchise to the consortium of Udenna Corp. of businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom, the last-standing and only qualified bidder.
Instead, the high court directed the respondent NTC to file its comments before ruling on the urgent prayer in the petition filed by PT&T earlier this month.
The SC gave NTC 10 days from receipt of notice to answer the petition and submit its comment.
PT&T had filed the petition before the SC after it was disqualified by the NTC on the bidding proceedings last Nov.7.
In its petition for certiorari filed through lawyers from Zamora and Poblador Law Offices, PT&T asked the SC to “nullify its disqualification from the selection process by the NMP [New Major Player] Selection Committee.”
It accused the selection committee that disqualified it of “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
The 56-year-old firm specifically challenged the NTC’s definition of national scale, which became the basis for its disqualification.
The NTC rules defined national scale as having telco operations “for a country or particularly regions thereof as geographically designated by the telecommunications authority of that country.”
PT&T questioned the position of the selection committee that having regional operations only referred to foreign companies.
Since the petitioner was unable to obtain a certification that it had 10 years of operations on a national scale- a key requirement under the bidding rules—it was disqualified and its bid documents remain sealed.
Aside from voiding the NTC order disqualifying it from the bidding, PT&T likewise asked the Supreme Court to order the NTC and the Selection Committee to secure its sealed bid documents to preserve the integrity of the bidding process.
Petitioner asked the Court to have its bid documents opened, believing it should be awarded the third telco slot because its offer was higher than that of Mislatel Consortium.
The NTC has already confirmed Mislatel Consortium as provisional third telco player in a confirmation order issued last week.
“For having passed the Preliminary and Detailed Evaluation phases, the NMP-SC [New Major Player Selection Committee] has determined that the first submission package of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. Inc. with Udenna Corp., Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and China Telecommunications Corp. [MISLATEL Group] was complete and compliant," the confirmation order read.
This paved the way to the 90-day post-qualification process for the issuance of frequencies and necessary permit.
The third telco will be granted a set of 3G, 4G and potential 5G radio frequencies. These will be used to provide voice calls, text messaging and mobile internet, putting the new major player in direct competition with the services offered by incumbents PLDT and Globe Telecom.
Based on its proposal throughout the government’s five-year commitment period, Mislatel offered to spend P258 billion to build a telco network, cover 84 percent of the country’s population and bring up the minimum average internet speed to 27 Megabits per second on its first year, going up to 55 Mbps in the succeeding years. Mislatel scored 456.8 points out of a possible 500 points under the NTC’s grading system.