Oversight panel formed for selection of 3rd telco

Ruth Abbey Gita

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has created an oversight committee for the entry of a third player in the Philippine telecommunications industry.

Under Administrative Order (AO) 11 signed on April 6, Duterte emphasized the need to ensure that the selection of the country's new telecommunications carrier will be done in an "integrated and transparent manner."

"Telecommunications is an essential infrastructure to a country's economic development and competitiveness," the President said.

"The entry of a new major player in the telecommunications market is a matter of paramount national interest which shall redound to the benefit of the public by ensuring genuine competition in the country's telecommunications industry," he added.

Representatives from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Finance shall serve as chairperson and vice chairperson of the oversight panel, respectively.

Other members shall include representatives from the Office of the Executive Secretary and the National Security Adviser.

Duterte tasked the panel to assist the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the formulation of the Terms of Reference for the selection and assignment of radio frequencies, pursuant to the DICT Memorandum Circular 001-08.

In November 2017, Duterte offered China to be one of the key players in the Philippines' telecommunications market.

The President had initially wanted the third major player to set up operations by March this year, in a bid to end the "duopoly" of the two dominating telecommunication companies in the country, Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc.

The DICT, however, had failed to meet Duterte's target, and instead asked for an extension of the deadline to attract more investors.

Duterte's invitation to China had encouraged Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to seek eligibility to be the third telecommunications player in the country.

Under the DICT's memorandum circular, a new telecommunications player should have a net worth of at least P10 billion; a congressional franchise with at least 60-percent Filipino ownership of its shares; and a "proven technical capability" in providing telecommunications services.

The third player must also not be related to any telecommunications group with a mobile and wireless market share of at least 40 percent.

Duterte directed the oversight committee to supervise the compliance of the NTC and other agencies with the provisions of the Terms of Reference for the entry of the new telecommunications company. (SunStar Philippines)