President Rodrigo Duterte dove straight into attacking his critics within the first 10 minutes of his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), hitting Senator Franklin Drilon and the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, while warning telecommunications companies that he would shut them down if they did not improve their service by December.
“It is sad that while the government battles the coronavirus, there are those who take advantage of a preoccupied government. One of them is Senator Franklin Drilon,” the President said.
Duterte said Drilon “arrogantly” mentioned that oligarchs need not be rich and used the Dutertes as an example of why his bill to ban political dynasties is important.
The President's daughter, Sara Duterte is Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte while his son, Paolo is a congressman representing Davao City.
The President said Drilon was “obviously defending the Lopezes” since he made such a remark after a House committee junked the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
“I am a casualty of the Lopezes in the 2016 elections…Media is a powerful tool in the hands of the oligarchs like the Lopezes who use it for their battles with political figures,” the President added.
Going off script toward the end of his speech, Duterte again attacked Drilon.
“I know this is SONA, but this is also the time to be heard by the public,” Duterte said, just minutes after closing his remarks.
The President also warned the two giant telecommunications firms, Globe and Smart, that he would shut them down if they continued providing poor service to Filipino people.
“If you cannot really improve your service… I might as well close you, “ Duterte said, referring to PLDT-Smart Communications of Manuel V. Pangilinan and Globe Telecom of the Ayala Group.
“I still have two more years in office, and if you will not improve your service, I will expropriate you. I will give until December to improve,” Duterte warned.
The President expressed frustration over the "less than ideal" services provided by local telcos and warned them he would take away their frequencies and use them for distance learning for public schools.
"Don't make us wait 10 years for services other countries are enjoying. Go and look for capital; if you are not ready to improve, (I) might just as well close all of you,” he said.
"We are a republic sovereign country, bear (that) in mind. The patience of the Filipino people is reaching its limit. I am articulating the anger of Filipinos," he said.
He said by December, telecommunications services would be improved to the point that he should be able to “call Jesus at Bethlehem.”
Globe vice president for corporate communications, Yolanda Crisanto, said the company would heed the President's call to improve telco services.
Crisanto said service performance and increased consumer demand for data are the key reasons the company has been investing billions of dollars to upgrade and improve the company’s network.
“This year Globe has earmarked $1.2 billion in capex, majority of which goes to network and capacity builds. These substantial investments are paying off as we experience marked service improvements, she said.
“Today, the Globe network is running at 4G/LTE. Last year, we launched 5G for Globe At Home and soon we will be launching mobile 5G services in the country. Globally, we are being cited for having improved internet experience,” Crisanto added.
Only recently, independent mobile analytics Open Signal ranked the Philippines as the 4th most improved country in mobile video experience. The ranking was included in its State of Mobile Network Experience in 2020 report.
“Although we have seen marked improvements, the industry is not without its challenges,” Crisanto said, adding that the long drawn permitting process across local government unit, home owners associations, and national agencies including the Department of Health and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines have hampered cell site builds and laying down of fiber to homes.
PLDT, on the other, hand, declined to comment.
PLDT earlier announced that it will be spending over P60 billion this year to fund its network expansion.
Globe and PLDT’s network roll out activities have been constrained by the reduced mobility of its network teams since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed for over two months.