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PT&T brings 3rd telco fight to Supreme Court

/ 07:13 PM November 16, 2018

Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T) filed a case before the Supreme Court on Friday in a bid to overturn its disqualification from the third telco race last Nov. 7.

PT&T, whose owners include businessman Salvador Zamora II, sent a letter to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to inform the telco regulator of its filing to the High Court.

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Friday was also the last day PT&T could have appealed its disqualification before the NTC En Banc and pay the P10 million non-refundable fee. Its letter was received 15 minutes before 5 p.m. deadline.

PT&T was disqualified alongside Sear Consortium, backed by Ilocos politician Luis “Chavit” Singson, who said on Thursday that they would no longer pursue an appeal to the NTC. With two out of three bidders disqualified, Mislatel Consortium, led by Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and China Telecom, was named the provisional third telco last week.

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The Inquirer obtained a copy of PT&T’s letter, which was coursed through the Zamora and Poblador Law Offices. In the letter, PT&T said it filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court seeking to “nullify its disqualification from the selection process by the NMP [New Major Player] Selection Committee.” It added that the selection committee disqualified it with “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

PT&T, which turned 56 years old last Wednesday and was once a rival of PLDT Inc., stumbled on the NTC’s definition of national scale. Under the rules, the national scale was defined as having telco operations “for a country or particularly regions thereof as geographically designated by the telecommunications authority of that country.”

PT&T assailed the clarification later issued by the third telco selection committee that having regional operations only referred to foreign companies. Because PT&T was unable to obtain a certification that it had 10 years of operations on a national scale- a key requirement under the bidding rules— it was disqualified and its bid documents remain sealed.

In its letter to the NTC, PT&T said it also asked the Supreme Court to order the NTC and the Selection Committee to secure its sealed bid documents. It said this was to preserve the integrity of the bidding process. PT&T is ultimately seeking to have its bid documents opened, suggesting that its offer was higher than that of Mislatel Consortium.

In its letter, PT&T added that it “will not hesitate to exhaust all legal remedies available to protect its interests while the petition is pending before the Supreme Court.”

Although it holds provisional winner status, Mislatel Consortium still needs to be confirmed by the NTC En Banc before being declared the new major player, according to the NTC’s bidding rules.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios said in an interview on Friday that the Selection Committee had yet to issue its resolution to the NTC En Banc. Cabarios said that with no more appeals pending, he believed the Selection Committee could issue its resolution on Mislatel by Monday next week.

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As to the impact of PT&T’s Supreme Court filing on any decision the NTC En Banc would make, Cabarios said “it will be studied very carefully by our legal team.”

The winner in the third telco exercise will be granted a set of 3G, 4G and potential 5G radio frequencies. These will be used to provide voice calls, text messaging and mobile internet, putting the new major player in direct competition with the services offered by incumbents PLDT and Globe Telecom.

Based on its proposal throughout the government’s five-year commitment period, Mislatel offered to spend P258 billion to build a telco network, cover 84 percent of the country’s population and bring up the minimum average internet speed to 27 Megabits per second on its first year, going up to 55 Mbps in the succeeding years. Mislatel scored 456.8 points out of a possible 500 points under the NTC’s grading system.

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TAGS: National Telecommunications Commission, Philippine news updates, Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp., PTT, supreme court, third telco race
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