The “ipso facto” revocation of Mislatel’s franchise must be seriously considered with regard to its status as the country’s new major player in the telecommunications industry, the national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said Wednesday.
During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Abdiel Dan Fajardo said the panel’s finding thatMislatel violated Section 7 of the company’s franchise was of “great importance” and must not be disregarded.
READ: DICT defers to Senate decision on Mislatel franchise
In other developments:
• Senators have misgivings on the grant of congressional franchise to Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company or Mislatel to Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy as they braced for a “court battle” of the country’s third telco service provider.
During Wednesday’s hearing on the third telco by the Senate public services committee led by Senator Grace Poe, the senators raised various issues hounding Mislatel, particularly the validity of its franchise. But Poe said it was up to Mislatel to answer the possible charges in court.
• Transpacific Broadband Group International or TBGI plans to create a subsidiary that will build cell site towers to be offered to telcos for common use under lease.
The subsidiary, which will be named Transpacific One Network Inc. or TONI, will be submitting a proposal to the Department of Information and Communications Technology to build and deploy 15,000 cell sites as part of its application as a common tower provider.
Section 7 of Mislatel’s franchise provides that the franchise will be deemed ipso facto [in fact] revoked in the event the franchisee fails to start operations within one year from approval.
“These have legal a effect. In Black’s Law Dictionary, ipso facto means by the very fact. Therefore, we are of the belief that such be considered with respect to the status of the winning bidder,” Fajardo said.
“We are of the belief that we should not move forward without considering the impact of such status in this particular endeavor.”
The previous hearing bared that Mislatel appeared to have failed to comply with the conditions set by Congress when it handed the firm its franchise, such as the requirement to operate within one year after the acquisition of the franchise and the need to seek Congress approval when it sold majority of its shares in 2001.
Poe asked the IBP president if the Supreme Court should review the franchise of Mislatel, or if it was well within the Congress’ power to grant or withdraw a franchise. Mislatel earlier argued only a quo warranto petition could cause a revocation of its franchise.
Fajardo cited a Supreme Court decision that “the viability of the quo warranto in this case does not preclude Congress from enforcing its own prerogative by abrogating the legislative franchise of respondents should it be distressed enough by franchisee’s violation of the franchise extended to them.”
He noted that the language of the franchise itself already represented the act of Congress abrogating the franchise by “virtue of the wording of the franchise itself.”
Mislatel spokesman Adel Tamano maintained the validity of the company’s franchise.
“No quo warranto proceeding has been filed against the franchise of Mislatel. There has been no revocation by the Congress of the franchise of Mislatel. Without going into the legal matters, there has been no positive act that would revoke the existence of the franchise,” Tamano said.
He also explained that there was no sale of controlling interest of Mislatel, but rather a subscription and an increase of capital stock.
“In fact, what happened was the initial entry of Nicanor Escalante and the other shareholders into Mislatel was not through a sale of controlling interest, which is basis for an ipso facto revocation, but rather it was through subscription and increase of capital stock,” Tamano said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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