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Bidders back 3rd telco selection process

/ 05:30 AM October 11, 2018

Aspiring participants in the government’s third telco initiative said they would continue to support the selection process even as one among their ranks sued the government on Monday—a development that could delay the bidding set next month.

On Thursday, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) said the company paid P1 million to acquire the bid documents from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and that they remained keen on the exercise. Paying the fee is a requirement before a company is allowed to submit an offer by the bid deadline on Nov. 7.

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“We have downloaded the bid documents as soon as it was made available and have reviewed it thoroughly. As it stands, they are acceptable to us,” James Velasquez, PT&T president and CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday.

PT&T is the sixth company to buy bid documents since the NTC invited interested participants to join the race to become the country’s third mobile player last Sunday.

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Those who bought selection papers included businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., Telenor Group, a venture between Ilocos politician Luis Chavit Singson’s LCS Group of Companies and TierOne Consortium, as well as NOW Telecom, the company that filed a case against the NTC, mainly citing the hefty financial requirements embedded in the rules as being illegal.

Renato Garcia, PT&T director and executive vice president, said they remained keen on the selection process despite the lawsuit filed by NOW.

“PT&T is in support of the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) and NTC on this issue,” Garcia said.

Jonathon Bentley Stevens, chair of TierOne, also said they remained supportive of the process. “We will file on time and let the NTC decide,” he said on Wednesday.

NOW Telecom filed a case before a Manila court on Oct. 8, seeking the removal of key financial requirements under the terms of reference.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. issued a strong rebuke against NOW and suggested that the company likely fell short in terms of its financial capabilities.

“The entry of a third telco is no small matter and to set the bar low for those who apparently cannot meet the standards is detrimental to the people who are the target beneficiaries,” Rio said.

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He said NOW had ample time to raise its concerns during the 15-day window before the TOR took effective on Oct. 6.

“The TOR was the result of public consultations and hearings, review by the oversight committee and lengthy and comprehensive studies with international consultants,” Rio said.

Apart from the various bonds, which could take the form of a letter of credit, Rio said the appeal fee was set to “discourage frivolous motions and protests.”

NOW’s lawsuit also caused its stock investors to turn bearish on Wednesday. The company’s share price fell more than 30 percent by the closing bell in heavy selling, wiping out some P3.5 billion in terms of market value.

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TAGS: James Velasquez, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Now Telecom, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T), third telco
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