Duterte renews DITO Telecommunity franchise for 25 more years

By Azer Parrocha

May 18, 2021, 4:53 pm

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law renewing the franchise of DITO Telecommunity Corp., the country's third telco, for another 25 years.

Republic Act No. (RA) 11537, signed by Duterte on Tuesday, extends DITO's franchise for another 25 years from its expiration on April 24, 2023 unless sooner revoked or canceled.

The franchise shall be deemed ipso facto (by the fact itself) revoked in the event the grantee fails to operate continuously for two years.

DITO shall apply for the renewal or extension of its franchise three years before its expiration which shall be reckoned from 15 days after the publication of the franchise in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Under RA 11537, DITO shall secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a certificate of public convenience and necessity or the appropriate permits and licenses for the construction, installation, and operation of its telecommunications systems or facilities.

In issuing the certificate, the NTC shall have the power to regulate and impose such conditions relative to the construction, operation, maintenance, or service level of the telecommunications systems or facilities. Such certificate shall state the areas covered and the date DITO shall commence the service, it added.

DITO, the law said, shall not use any frequency in the radio spectrum without authorization from the NTC. The NTC, however, shall not unreasonably withhold or delay the grant of such authority, permit, or license.

“In case of any violation of the provisions of this franchise, the NTC shall have the authority to revoke or suspend, after due process, the permits or licenses it issued pursuant to the franchise. The assignment of frequencies to the franchisee shall be subject to review at regular intervals,” the law said.

The NTC, it added, shall have the authority to reallocate redundant frequencies held by the franchisee, and may recommend to Congress the revocation of the franchise for any violation of the provisions of this franchise.

RA 11537 also requires DITO to submit an annual report on its compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise and on its operations to the Congress of the Philippines, through the Committee on Legislative Franchises of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Public Services of the Senate, on or before April 30 of every year during the term of its franchise.

The reportorial compliance certificate issued by Congress shall be required before any application for permit or certificate is accepted by the NTC.

DITO shall also make a full report to the President and Congress any form of disclosure of any data or information, assistance, support, or cooperation made to a foreign government, its instrumentalities, or agents, the law said.

“Failure to make such disclosure shall be ground for the revocation of the franchise,” it added.

The telco shall also submit the regular security audits of its network and facilities by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Security Council (NSC) among others, to the Congress of the Philippines as part of its reportorial requirements.

Failure of DITO to submit the requisite annual report to Congress shall be penalized with a fine in the amount of PHP1 million per working day of noncompliance.

DITO, which was launched commercially last March 8 in various areas in Visayas and Mindanao, was selected as the new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market.

It was given a five-year network rollout to realize its commitment to provide at least 55 mbps (megabits per second) of mobile data connectivity to at least 84 percent of the country's population.

Previously, the country’s telecommunications sector was being dominated by SMART/Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and Globe Telecommunications (PNA)