Palace: Other foreign telcos welcome only if talks with China would fail

Harry Roque (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The country’s telecom industry would only open to other foreign players if the talks between the Philippine government and China would fail, Malacañang clarified Wednesday.

“Let me be clear on this ‘no. The offer to China was made in a bilateral talk between the President [Rodrigo Duterte] and the Chinese Premier [Li Keqiang],” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.

“It appears to have been accepted because the Chinese government nominated China Telecom ‘no,” he added.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said that the third player expected to enter the country is “not limited to China” and is “open to all telcos or investor from around the world.”

“Whoever can give the best, the most viable offer, or the juiciest offer to us, that will be the third player in the telecommunications industry in the Philippines,” Andanar said Sunday.

Roque said that the industry would only be open to other foreign telecom companies if China would not amenable with the constitutional provision on foreign ownership of strategic industries.

He explained that Chinese state-owned companies are always “uncomfortable with not having 100 percent or majority stake.”

The Constitution states that 60 percent of stakes of companies in strategic industries, including telecommunications, should be Filipino-owned.

“If for any reason this is not acceptable to China Telecom, then we have no choice ‘no. We gave China the option but if this is not acceptable to it, unfortunately we will have to look for other players because we will have to honor what the Constitution provides,” he noted.

But so far, the spokesperson said, there are no indications that China Telecom, a state-owned does not want to push through with the project.

“But unless it’s actually up and going, I guess there is always a possibility that others may be involved if for any reason China Telecoms or China decides not to push through with their commitment ‘no, to start a third telecoms company,” he said. /atm


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