Duterte rejects extension  of 3rd telco playerâs entry

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) asked for two more months to award the third slot during last Monday’s Cabinet meeting, but Duterte rejected the request.  KJ Rosales

Duterte rejects extension of 3rd telco player’s entry
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday warned groups against hindering the entry of a third telecommunication firm in the country as he insisted that the new player should be operational by the end of March.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) asked for two more months to award the third slot during last Monday’s Cabinet meeting, but Duterte rejected the request.

“There was a request from officer-in-charge Secretary Eliseo Rio that they be given two additional months, or until May, to award and to ensure that the third telecoms carrier is up and about. This was not approved in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting,” Roque said.

“So we stick it out with the original timeframe of a third telecoms player by March of this year,” he added.

Roque said Duterte was “empathic” when he issued a warning to the detractors of the entry of the third telecoms player.

He said the President warned the detractors “not to test the will of government.”

Roque said Duterte was irked that the government would have to find frequencies to be allotted to the third telecom player.

“He was displeased with the fact that the frequency given to a shell company, CURE, which apparently was given for free, would have to  be bought back by government in order that the third player could be given the frequencies,” Roque said.

“The President rejected that proposal, that we pay for frequencies that we gave out for free, and he warned everyone involved not to test the resolve of the President in allowing a third telecoms carrier to enter the country,” he added.

“The President just said, do not test my resolve...Okay it’s enough to say that the warning is ‘do not f*** with government.’”

Last Sunday, Roque said the DICT had admitted that the third player may not be operational within the first quarter.

Duterte has ordered agencies to ensure that there would be a third telecommunication player by the end of March.

Officials have said the entry of a third player would lead to greater competition, which in turn, would pave the way to better services and cheaper rates.

Duterte urgedChina to invest in the Philippines’ telecom sector during a bilateral meeting between Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last November.

Roque has said the invitation to become the third telecom player would be open to companies from other countries if the government and China Telecom fail to reach an agreement.

Foreign firms have to create partnerships with local firms since  the Constitution limits foreign ownership of a public utility to 40 percent.

But Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and DICT officials said in earlier interviews that the invitation to become the Philippines’ third telco player is open to all interested parties.

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