Drilon hits NTC for hasty choice of Mislatel as 3rd telco
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon criticized the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) for its apparent failure to exercise due diligence in choosing the Philippines’s third telecommunications player.
The senator questioned why NTC decided to pick Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. (Mislatel) considering that its franchise would expire in 2023 and yet the deliverables of the third telco would extend beyond that year.
“I think the entire country, including the Senate, really sees the need for a third telco player, because our internet and communication services are probably one of the poorest in the world,” Drilon said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday.
“In our effort to hurry up, we disregarded a number of basic bidding considerations – including doing due diligence on Mislatel. ‘Haste makes waste’,” he added.
As he had pointed out in an earlier Senate hearing, the franchise of Mislatel was considered revoked as it failed to comply with its provisions.
During the hearing, it was discovered that Mislatel had never operated, which, according to Drilon, was in violation of Section 7 of the company’s franchise requiring Mislatel to operate within a year after the approval of its franchise in 1998.
The senator also said that Mislatel’s incumbent president and chief operating executive, Nicanor Escalante, did not seek the approval of Congress when his group purchased the majority of the firm’s shares in 2015.
“The grant of the license is questionable because of these issues,” Drilon said in the TV interview. “Can you imagine, you have a new franchise who is supposed to provide us with a stable internet connection and the franchise itself is not stable?”
He added that the third telco player, in order to provide faster internet speed in the country, “should be able to stand on solid ground.”
If not, Drilon warned, the government would be committing an error.
“We will be back to where we are today with no third telco,” he said. “We do not want the award to be vulnerable to attacks because we want a stable foundation upon which the award is based. We must put everything on solid ground so that we can continue to expect good and stable service.”
According to the senator, the franchise of Mislatel is “vulnerable to attacks and stands on shaky ground.” /atm