Stressing that the country’s present communications system is very inefficient, former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile vowed to bring down mobile phone call, text and data charges and improve telecommunication services.
Enrile, who is staging a comeback in the coming midterm elections, said the present communications system was a waste of time and energy.
“At home, I call, after a few moments, I’ll just move myself, I’m cut off, I’ll reconnect, I’ll pay again,” Enrile said of the present challenges in local telecommunication services
As Senate president in 2008, Enrile was credited with protecting the rights of consumers in the telecommunications industry by spearheading a Senate investigation into what he described then as the “disappearing cellphone load” and “cellphone load robbery” schemes. He also filed a bill regulating the telecommunications industry.
Enrile also pushed for telecom providers to comply with the billing regime of the National Telecommunications Commission mandating that calls that lasted less than one minute would no longer be charged the full rate of P7.50 per minute, and instead be billed on a “per pulse” basis.
“We have given the NTC a fixed tenure and fiscal authority to protect the agency from any political pressure, thereby giving the agency more teeth to remain firm in implementing the rules,” he said.
For his telco reform initiatives, Enrile won his re-election bid in the 2010 elections with his campaign spiel: “Gusto Ko Happy Ka [I want you to be happy].”
“I started that when I was in the Senate —unli, unli na sinasabi—inimbestiga ko ‘yun kaya bumaba yung charges. I will go into that,” he said of the investigation he initiated into the “unlimited” phone and text promotions of the telecommunication companies.
Furthermore, Enrile suggested he would now focus on online services such as data subscriptions since millions of Filipinos were already mobile phone Internet users.
“We have to accept the fact that we are living in a technologically-constrained society. Everything is now based on [the] cellphone. Everything is now done through texting, calling, online, and we must adapt to this situation,” he said.
Furthermore, Enrile said he would review and introduce amendments to the anti-trust law or the non-competition law of which he was the primary author.
“We have to go back and refine the law. That is the purpose of an anti-trust law, to prevent monopoly, but in the case of communication and public services, you have to regulate,” he said.