Opposition senators on Thursday questioned why there was only one qualified bidder for the entry of a third telecoms operator in the Philippines.
They also questioned the expertise of Dennis Uy, the man behind China Telecom, the provisional winning bidder.
“Why only one qualified bidder? What is Dennis Uy’s expertise and what does he know about Telcos?” the senators belonging to the Minority said in a statement.
“What qualified it in the first place? Why were the other bidders booted out? What is the track record of the winning bidder in the telecommunications business? Was the government’s opening up the bidding to other players just a formality?”
The senators made their statement even as an opposition lawmaker on Thursday welcomed the government’s selection of a third telecommunications player to boost the country’s mobile Internet services.
“We are counting on the newcomer to compete brutally with the nation’s two dominant players in delivering faster mobile Internet connection speeds at a lower price,” said Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr., a deputy minority leader.
The senators said the government must be extremely careful because of the legal questions that might be asked, recalling the controversial the China-funded government contracts such as the ZTE NBN deal and the Northrail project that were eventually scrapped due to irregularities.
“We don’t want the China Telecom joint venture to be NBN-ZTE part 2,” said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV.
They insisted that the Philippines’ telecommunications sector needed more industry players for the sake of the tens of millions of Filipino consumers who deserved quality Internet and mobile services.
“We long for a time when Filipinos would have free access to the Internet, when we could use our mobile phones without experiencing drop calls, when text messages would arrive on time, and when our private data would not be used without our knowledge or consent for commercial and intelligence,” the senators said in a statement.
“That’s why we need to do things right.”
They said the selection of the joint venture between a Davao-based businessman and the state-owned China Telecom as the provisional new major telecommunications player should be examined carefully.
In December 2017, they recalled that Malacañang said it wanted the government to ensure that China Telecom could begin its Philippine operations by the first quarter of 2018.
Senator Joel Villanueva expressed hope that the NTC would ensures that the third telecoms player would fulfill its commitment not only to the government but more importantly to the Filipino consumers who deserved the best possible service at the lowest possible cost
He also commended the NTC for facilitating encouraging the entry of a new major telecommunications provider. With Maricel V. Cruz