‘Telcos likely to challenge draft common tower policy in court’
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The draft common towers policy as proposed by presidential adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications Ramon Jacinto will likely bring the government to court, with potential violations to the telcos’ legislative franchise still unaddressed, according to Information and Communications Technology acting Secretary Eliseo Rio.

In a social media post yesterday, Rio said the draft policy would surely be challenged by the telcos in court because it potentially violates their legislative franchise that gives them the right to build their own telecommunication infrastructure, including towers.

“A telco’s franchise has the weight of a law and only another law, not a department policy, a memorandum circular, nor an executive order can amend a law. This crucial matter has never been addressed by RJ in defending his draft policy,” Rio said. 

“Also, his insistence that the number of common towers provider (or towerco) be limited to two is being questioned by the Philippine Competition Commission, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the industry as a whole as being anti-competitive, violative of several laws, and runs counter to the principle in our Constitution that prevents monopolies,” he said.

The Office of Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications in its latest statement continued to junk the move Globe Telecom Inc. to become a common tower company and also insisted on having only two independent common tower firms. 

“DICT recognizes that the country is in dire need of more towers to improve our ICT industry. Any delay would not be acceptable. We will come out with  a memorandum of understanding with any capable towerco that if they can get a contract or agreement with a telco to lease their towers, DICT will fully support the towerco in terms of facilitating permits, right of way, and other government support for infrastructures,” Rio said. 

Rio said the tower provider must first demonstrate its viability by getting a business transaction with a telco before the government can support it.

Rio said the government would also propose to subsidize common towers that would be built in underserved or unserved areas.

Rio said around three tower companies have shown interest in signing a MOU with DICT aside from ISOC.

“In the end, the towercos that will get support from the government will have to depend on market forces, and not for the government to dictate on what the market should do, for them to get support,” Rio said.

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