MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to fast-track the entry of the third player to improve telco services in the country, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wanted the DICT and the NTC to implement his order during the first quarter of 2018, or until March next year.
“The NTC and DICT were tasked to approve all applications and licenses within seven days, but only upon complete submission of requirements. And that if it is not approved within seven days, it is deemed approved,” he added.
Duterte’s instructions to the NTC and the DICT on the issuance of permits to telcos also apply to all national and regional government agencies and should also be the case for permits of incumbent telecom players.
“That’s how serious the President is on the entry of a third telecoms player. It is being rushed because we need desperately to have better telecoms in this country,” Roque said.
He said DICT acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. has informed him that he (Rio) and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba can have a third telco player operational by early March 2018 to compete with Globe and Smart, as per the desire of President Duterte.
He likewise assured that Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities will be observed and the selection process would be transparent.
The third telco slot was offered by President Duterte to China at the conclusion of the ASEAN Summit last November and the Chinese government has selected China Telecoms to invest in the Philippines.
“They (restrictions on foreign ownership) will have to be observed. And I think the scheme that they agreed upon is, while China Telecoms will have 40 percent, there will be a consortium of Filipino companies that will own 60 percent,” Roque said.
“The selection process will be very transparent and well defined, that there will be no doubt at all that the selected telco consortium will be the best to compete against the duopoly,” he added.
He allayed fears of a possible security breach in the entry of the foreign player, pointing out that foreign players already have minority ownership in Globe and Smart.
“The minority share owners of our providers are also foreign, so there’s always a foreign partner involved,” he said.
“Secondly, it is a priority of the administration to improve our cybersecurity. Right now, all I can say is we’re beefing up. We’ve given priority to our cybersecurity and I’m sure there would be measures to protect our privacy and our national security interests,” Roque said. PNA-northboundasia.com