The Philippine government cannot give the go signal to Mislatel Consortium to start its infrastructure as the country’s third telco player despite compliance with post-qualification requirements during the Feb. 17 deadline, said DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio on Thursday.
In an interview, Rio cited the need for the final approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the approval on Mislatel’s procurement of the controlling shares of Mislatel company.
The Senate on Wednesday approved the House concurrent resolution which recognized that Mislatel Company was bought by Mislatel consortium composed of Idenna Corporation of Davao City-based business Dennis Uy, Chelsea Logistics and China Telecom of the Chinese government.
But this is not yet final because the concurrent resolution should be first reconciled due to the House provisions which are different from the Senate version.
The House version recognizes that the purchase of Mislatel company included the franchise given to it by Congress 1998 while this was not mentioned innthe concurrent resolution of the Senate on the franchise.
Meanwhile, with the Senate approval on the transfer of ownership of Mislatel to the consortium, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile stated his support for the operation of the third telecommunications player.
He cited Mislatel’s capacity to improve the system is “more important” than technical and legal obstacles.
“If there is a violation, that is correctible. That should be evaluated is its capacity to give better service. Now, if capable, we’ll have to help them to remove all the technicalities and allow them to go on,” Enrile, who is vying for a Senate seat in the upcoming elections, said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
“If they have the financial capability to improve the system, that is more important than any of the technicalities,” the veteran lawmaker added.
The former Senate President also called on lawmakers to stop the politicking that is slowing down the processing of the third telco player, saying, “Kung minsan nahahaluan ng pulitika kaya may mga suspicion, dapat tama na ‘yun. Tingnan natin kung anong nakakabuti sa bayan.”
Mislatel’s franchise has been hounded by issues since it was provisionally named the third telco player last year.
During a Senate hearing on January 24, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon declared that Mislatel’s franchise was void since it had not been able to operate within a year after its franchise was granted in April 1998.
The third telco player was also criticized for failing to get congressional approval when it changed its controlling stake.
Enrile, who was Senate President in 2009, pushed for the protection of consumer rights in the telco industry, reiterated the urgent need for improvements for phone and Internet users.
“We need [the third telco]. Mabagal ‘yung internet natin. Dropped calls have increased. The quality of communication is below par of other countries,” he said.
The four-term Senator said that a “better and more efficient communication system” is necessary for the country to “move forward”.
However, Enrile cautioned that if the consortium would not be able to fulfill its promise of faster Internet speeds, then a better telco player must be sought.
“If they don’t fulfill their promise, you change them. Cancel the contract and give it to another one,” Enrile said.