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Andanar: Telco industry open to other foreign firms

Past statements from Andanar and from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had indicated that China Telecom would be the third telco PPD/Ace Morandante
MANILA, Philippines — The invitation to become the country's third telecommunication player is open to all interested parties and not just to China Telecom, Malacañang clarified Sunday. 
 
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government would choose the best offer to make sure that consumers could benefit from competition. 
 
"This is not limited to China. This is open to all telcos or investors around the world. Whoever can provide the best offer, the most viable offer, the most juicy offer will be the third player of the telecommunication industry of the Philippines," Andanar told radio station dzBB.
 
On December 10, Andanar himself announced in a radio interview that China Telecom would enter the Philippine telecommunication sector.
 
"The Chinese government has selected a company that will invest in the telco (industry) of our country. It is China Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in China," he said then. 
 
He also said that the government "is fast-tracking this because our countrymen are already irritated by dropped calls and slow internet."
 
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the next day that "it was a political decision of the President to offer it to a Chinese company."
 
The move, he said, was "to strengthen our bilateral ties with China, coupled with the fact that given the huge telecoms market in China, Chinese companies ought to have already technical know-how in providing competent and reliable telecom services."  
 
Last November, Duterte invited China to invest in the telco industry to enhance the internet service in the country, which has been criticized for being slow and expensive. 
 
Companies from Japan, South Korea, United States, and Australia have also expressed interest to form partnerships with local firms and become the country's third telco player, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
 
Overseas firms need to forge partnerships with local firms because the Constitution limits foreign ownership of a public utility to 40 percent. 
 
Duterte has ordered agencies to ensure that the third telco would be be able to operate within the first quarter. 
 
He has also warned the judiciary against issuing temporary restraining orders that would hamper the entry of the third telco player. 
 
"At the end of the day, what is important really is that we have a very good telecom industry, a very competitive one that can give good service to the people," Andanar said. 
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