Two telecom bidders go to court vs government agencies

Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said Tuesday it asked the Makati Regional Trial Court to compel the government to accept its bid amid what it described as “discriminatory” requirement set by the National Telecommunications Commission for the selection of a new major telecom player. 

“PT&T is not asking the court to stop or restrain the third telco bidding.  PT&T is requesting  for the court to correctly interpret the term ‘national scale’ and in the meantime, compel the NTC to accept the NMP [new major player] bid that PT&T will submit without the required certification, until such time that the case is finally settled,” PT&T president and chief executive James Velasquez said.

“While PT&T has managed to secure all requirements in the TOR, the NTC has not been able to issue the company a certification that it has been in operations on a national scale for the last 10 years,” he said.

“We believe that the NTC’s refusal to issue the said certification is without basis since it is premised on a restrictive interpretation of the term ‘national scale’ as it heavily favors foreign telecommunications companies who want to participate in the third telco bidding, “ Velasquez said. 

“We do not see any valid reason why a distinction should be made between foreign and local telecommunications companies insofar as the interpretation and application of the term ‘national scale’ applies,” Velasquez said.

“We believe that NTC should adopt an interpretation that would level the playing field between foreign and local telecommunications companies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mel Velarde Inc. – which used to own a controlling stake in Altimax Broadcasting Co. Inc. – labelled Department of Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio’s recent media statements as “reckless.”

Rio was quoted as saying that Altimax applied for a franchise with the intention of selling its frequencies to Bethlehem Holdings Inc., subsidiary of Globe Telecommunications Inc.

Velarde who also heads Now Telecom Inc. said contrary to Rio’s statement, Altimax exerted all possible efforts to renew its provisional authority, retain its frequencies, and even opposed efforts by the NTC to withdraw and reallocate frequency bands earlier issued to the company.

“It is beyond doubt that Altimax has availed of every measure to protect its franchise as it had every intention to make use of the same, as evidenced by Altimax’s efforts to have its PA extended,” Velarde said in a letter addressed to Rio.

The company also lodged civil and criminal cases against officials of BHI, Globe and NTC over the industry regulator’s order extending Altimax’s PA but allocating only 30 MHz of the 48 MHz covered by the original PA, and Globe’s subsequent move to dismiss a legal case lodged by Altimax against NTC.

Velarde said these circumstances did not support Rio’s assertion and unfairly dragged Now Corp. and Now Telecom into the fray.

“By reason of the acting secretary’s malicious statements, Now Telecom, of which I am the president and chief executive officer, was likewise unjustifiably dragged into the matter. As mentioned above, by referring to me and to Now Telecom, though mistakenly referred to as Now Corp., the imputation has passed on to Now Telecom without any factual basis,” Velarde said.

Velarde demanded that the DICT chief retract his statement by Tuesday or face court action.

“The company, thus, hereby demands that the Acting Secretary immediately retract his baseless statements against Altimax, through me and Velarde Inc., as well as Now Corp. and/or Now Telecom, which were evidently not made in good faith and appears to have been made solely to malign said corporations’ reputation, including mine absent any legal duty therefor and outside the exercise of his functions. Should such retraction not be made on or before 06 November 2018, I shall recommend the Company’s immediate filing of the appropriate criminal charges against the Acting Secretary in order to promptly seek redress for the damage caused by his false and irresponsible statements.”

Apart from Now and  PT&T, other groups that bought bid documents were China Telecom, Mobiltel Holdings GmBH, Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., the joint venture of businessman Chavit Singson’s LSC Group of Companies and TierOne Communications and Norway’s Telenor Group.

READ: Mislatel wins bid for 3rd telco; 2 'losers' protest

Topics: Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. , PT&T , National Telecommunications Commission , NTC , Mel Velarde Inc. , Altimax Broadcasting Co. Inc.
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