DICT tells NTC to seek House' OK on Mislatel franchise

By Aerol John Pateña

February 20, 2019, 6:23 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has taken the cautious route by directing the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to ensure it has the blessing of Congress before allowing Mislatel Consortium to go ahead with its operations.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the House of Representatives still need to formally adopt the Senate resolution on the transfer of ownership of Mislatel before it can be issued its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) by the NTC to operate as the new major telco player in the country.

“The DICT is instructing NTC to exercise prudence by way of requesting the House to issue a formal declaration to the effect that it does not object to the Senate Resolution, prior to the issuance of the CPCN to Mislatel Consortium,” Rio said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the DICT official agreed with Senate Public Services Committee chairperson Grace Poe that an approval of the bicameral conference committee on the resolution is no longer necessary to address the matter, he reiterated that it is best to wait for an official act of the House in deference to the legislative process.

“Until this is done, in order not to preempt Congress and in due regard to the separation of powers of the legislative and the executive, the DICT cannot take further action on the matter,” Rio said.

In a press briefing earlier this week, Rio said Mislatel is expected to start operations after the midterm elections in May as the department must first wait for Congress to officially approve Mislatel’s franchise before it can give out the necessary radio frequencies and the NTC grant its CPCN.

Mislatel was awarded the third telco slot by the NTC following a bidding conducted in November last year.

It has committed to provide Internet speeds of 55 megabytes per second (Mbps) covering 84 percent of the population, with capital expenditures of around PHP250 billion over a five-year period.

Consortium members Udenna Corp., its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and state-owned China Telecommunications Corp. earlier agreed to increase their shareholdings in Mislatel Inc. to acquire majority and controlling interest in the company.

The House of Representatives approved the transfer of Mislatel’s shares to the consortium on December 11, 2018 while the Senate approved its resolution on February 6, 2019. (PNA)