The Court of Appeals has junked the bid of a telecommunications firm to stop the government’s selection process for the country’s third major telco player.
In a resolution, the CA’s Special 11th Division denied the prayer for urgent relief in the petition filed by NOW Telecom of businessman Mel Velarde in Nov. last year that questioned the legality of the terms of reference set by the National Telecommunications Commission.
The appellate court turned down the plea of petitioner for issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction that could prevent the final awarding of the third telco slot to Mislatel, the consortium of Udenna Corp. of businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom.
“After careful consideration of the allegation made in the petition in relation to the prayer for injunctive relief, it is the Court’s considered view that petitioner’s application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction must be denied. This court observes that the assailed RTC order denied petitioner’s prayer for preliminary injunction before said court,” stated the ruling penned by Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario.
“If this Court issues the preliminary injunction prayed for, we would dispose of the instant petition on the merits as we would have already determined the very issues of the petition before us: Whether indeed there is a clear legal right that exists in petitioner’s favor that warrants judicial protection and that respondent gravely abused her discretion in denying injunctive relief despite such existence,” it said.
Associate Justices Nina Antonio Valenzuela and Perpetua Atal-Pano concurred with the ruling.
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier asked the CA to deny the prayer by NOW Telecom and also dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
Calida argued that the CA is not allowed by law to issue an injunction order against the selection process for the new major player in the telco industry.
He cited Section 3 of Republic Act 8975, which specifically prohibits appellate and lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders or WPIs on national government projects, including infrastructure projects.
And assuming the telco bidding is not covered by RA 8975, he stressed that NOW Telco is not entitled to such relief simply because it did not participate in the bidding process and therefore had no legal standing to file the case.
Calida said that NOW Telco has “waived or abandoned” its right to question the TOR when it did not submit a bid during the selection process in November last year.
In its petition, NOW Telecom asked the CA to reverse and set aside an earlier decision of Manila regional trial court branch 42 Judge Dinnah Aguila Topacio that dismissed the firm’s petition for issuance of WPI.
It questioned provisions in the TOR, which were supposedly not taken up during a series of public consultations.
Specifically, the company assailed the P700-million participation security, the P14- to P24-billion performance security, and a P10-million non-refundable appeal fee, which is branded as “money-making schemes.”
A similar petition was filed in Nov. by disqualified bidder Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. before the Supreme Court.
Without any TRO, the NTC proceeded with the selection process and awarded the third telco slot to Mislatel being the remaining qualified bidder.
Mislatel is now in the process of securing a ratified Congress resolution on its franchise to be able to start its operations.