Debt-for-equity deal application upheld by Court

The Supreme Court has turned down the bid of the Pangilinan-led Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company to stop Globe and Bayan Telecommunications Inc.’s joint application filed with the National Telecommunications Commission for the regulatory approval of the debt-to-equity transaction between the two firms.

In a six-page resolution, the SC’s First Division held that the petition for review filed by PLDT seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals’ decision issued in 2015 that sustained the validity of the orders issued on November 27, 2013, December 13, 2013 and July 3, 2014 by the respondent NTC was moot and academic.

The assailed NTC orders allowed the continuation of the proceedings before the agency, in connection with Globe and Bayantel’s joint application for regulatory approval and denied the PLDT’s motion to dismiss or suspend the same.

The high court said the petition for review had become moot and academic with the approval of Globe and Bayantel’s Joint Application by the NTC last July 2, 2015.

“In this case, while the certiorari petition filed by PLDT questioning the interlocutory orders issued by the NTC was pending, the NTC rendered a decision on the Joint Application…Given this development, any action on the certiorari petition on mere incidental matters of the Joint Application would not accord any practical relief to PLDT,” the resolution said.

Globe and Bayantel had sought the denial of PLDT’s petition for review on the ground that it had become moot and academic because of the issuance of the NTC decision on July 2, 2015, approving the joint application.

They noted that PLDT had already resorted to the filing of a motion for reconsideration before the NTC seeking to set aside its July 2, 2015 resolution.

But PLDT insisted that the petition had not been mooted by the approval of the Joint Application considering that such decision was not yet final and executory.

It also insisted that the case was an exception to the rule on mootness.

However, the SC ruled that the case had already become moot and academic and that PLDT’s remedy was to file an appeal questioning the decision of the NTC in the Joint Application and not to insist on the petition for review on certiorari involving the interlocutory orders earlier issued by the NTC.

In questioning the validity of Globe and Bayantel’s Joint Application, PLDT claimed that the NTC violated its own rules and its right to due process when it did not order the joint applicants to append the amended rehabilitation plan and the master restructuring agreement to the joint application.

PLDT also opposed the joint application because it seeks the transfer of Bayantel’s franchise to Globe that needed congressional approval and that by holding in abeyance the resolution of the issue of whether or not prior legislative approval is required to entertain the join application, the NTC appropriated unto itself powers that are inherent in the Congress and which were not delegated.

PLDT said the NTC violated its own rules, the notarial rules, rules of court and other applicable jurisprudence by acting on the joint application to the prejudice of the rights of PLDT and other interested parties.

However, the appellate court noted that the ARP and MRA were furnished to the NTC during its course of proceedings, thus the issue raised by PLDT on the matter was already moot and academic.

Likewise, the CA held that the NTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it deferred the resolution of the issue on whether or not prior congressional approval was needed before the NTC could proceed to hear the joint application of Globe and Bayantel.

Topics: Supreme Court , Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company , PLDT , Globe and Bayan Telecommunications Inc. , National Telecommunications Commission , NTC , debt-for-equity
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