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Opinion

NTC vs telcos over SMS overcharging?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

I’m in Panglao, Bohol right now for the grand opening of The Bellevue Resort, Bohol’s first five-star resort tomorrow. This is my second visit to The Bellevue. We came here a couple of months before when select media were invited to their soft-opening. Seeing the Bellevue, I commented to Governor Edgar Chatto that finally, tourism in Bohol has truly matured… as the entry of The Bellevue raises the bar of excellence for Bohol. My heartfelt congratulations to the Chan family headed by Johnny Chan and his sons, Patrick, Ryan and Dustin for their commitment to excellence. Of course, with thanks to my brother, the debonair hotelier himself, Sir Arthur Lopez who helped the Chan family on this project from its inception to its inauguration.

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The news that our telecommunications service providers or telcos (Smart, Sun and Globe) have been overcharging their consumers according to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is somewhat confusing and even intriguing because of its complexity. Because the NTC said that they were overcharging the subscribers, the NTC ordered all the telcos to refund their subscribers. So I ask you… do you feel that the telcos cheated?

Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. I have a postpaid account that is “unli” or unlimited texting and data use… so how much refund should I receive from my service provider? Not many people know that I also have another phone that is pre-paid with another telco…, which has now expired. Again, I would like to know how much refund from the telco concerned?

I was watching Karen Davila’s morning show “HeadStart” over ANC last Thursday and she had Smart Communications PR head Mon Isberto on the line who said that they would file a motion for reconsideration with the NTC, because the directive to reduce the text messaging from P1 to 35 centavos was not very clear in the NTC memo which was asking the telcos to bring down interconnection charges. Where did SMS come into play then?

I have no doubt that the spirit of the memo by the NTC to lower text charges was merely implied and not specific. But the figures that the NTC used did not match what the telcos said. So Mon Isberto and Yoly Crisanto, communications head of Globe Telecom who I was with last Wednesday night during the Globe Telecom Christmas party, were correct in their assessments that it’s back to the lawyers of the telcos to argue their case with NTC. After all, I don’t think that they are at this point overcharging until the NTC clarifies its order. So get back to the drawing board gentlemen!

There are questions that consumers ought to be asking… like whether P1 text charges are considered expensive or even prohibitive? Another question is whether poor people should be texting instead of using their money to buy food? The final question I’d like to ask is reserved for my good friend NTC Chairman Gamaliel Cordova, whether NTC has already deregulated short message services (SMS) or not? If it has deregulated it… why then is the NTC trying to regulate it again? Until these questions are given answers, I’d take the side of the telcos… until things have been clarified.

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The Blackbox:

Today is the 6th death anniversary of the late Philippine STAR publisher and a dear friend and mentor, Sir Maximo V. Soliven. Indeed how time flies and yet not a day passes that I don’t think of Sir Max and the days we’ve gone together, especially when I go to Manila and be with him. As I’ve written volumes about the Life and Times of Sir Max, for this anniversary allow me to reprint a poem he wrote when he was 13 years old, when his father Benito Soliven passed away. This is found in his collection of poems that Precious gave me entitled, “Ave Triumphator!” The poem is entitled “In Memoriam.”

“There are no walls to shut away / No barriers intervene / Between your loved, departed ones / There is no bar between./ The winds may beat upon your back / And stormy be the way / But there’s someone in heaven / To help you, day by day./ Death there is unto! /  Before the cold / The flowers fall and fade away / And slumber through the stormy hours / To waken to another day!

The brother finds it sad to see / A sister leave this shore / But solace in the thought he finds / Not lost, but gone before./ Each mourned, beloved one / Though laid within the sod / Shall wait, till then, each one / Shall have reunion under God./ For those whom we have parted with / For those whom we no longer see / Each holy soul, shall near day / A meeting in Eternity.”

Whenever I go to the Adoration Chapel, I always say a little prayer for Sir Max for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a small part of his earthly life.

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E-mail: vsbobita@mo-pzcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

 

ADORATION CHAPEL AS I AVE TRIUMPHATOR BELLEVUE RESORT BENITO SOLIVEN BOHOL NTC SIR MAX
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