My Google Page Rank

Lawmakers want probe on PLDT-Digitel merger

PDFPrintE-mail

Lawmakers on Wednesday called for a congressional inquiry into the controversial sale of Digitel Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (DTPI) shares to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), saying this is an outright violation of the franchise law.

San Jose del Monte City Rep. Arturo Robes, author of House Resolution 1161, asked the House Committees on Legislative Franchises and Information and Communication to look into the legality of the sale or disposition of shares by the DTPI to the PLDT.

Robes also urged both panels to summon the officials of both companies and those who were involved in facilitating the sale of shares.

PLDT recently acquired 51.55 percent of Digitel, which owns the Sun Cellular brand, from the Gokongwei Group and hoped to purchase the remainder from small shareholders during a mandatory tender offer.

On Feb. 17, 1994, Congress passed Republic Act 7678 granting Digitel the right to construct, install, operate and maintain telecommunications systems throughout the Philippines for 25 years. Its franchise will end in 2019.

Robes said a legislative franchise is a grant of the right or special privilege by the State to an entity through the legislature as a requisite for the operation of public utilities including telecommunication services.

"It’s a corporate act that comes close to a violation of its legislative franchise, particularly Section 15 of RA 7678," he said.

The San Jose del Monte solon said Section 15 of RA 7678 states that the grantee shall not lease, transfer, or sell its franchise to any person, firm, company or commercial or legal entity, nor its controlling interest be transferred, whether in whole or in part to any person, firm, company, corporation or entity without the prior approval of Congress as grantors of franchises.

Under the law, he said, DTPI is required to file a detailed annual report to Congress with respect to its programs, operations and/or compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise.

At present, DTPI provides various telecommunications services primarily in the Philippines. The company also offers SUN cellular voice products and services comprising local calls, national and international toll services, among others.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casino, in a privilege speech on Tuesday, said the PLDT-Digitel merger is illegal "because such a buyout or swap and share deal requires congressional approval. This is explicit in Digitel’s and Digitel Mobile’s franchises."

Proponents of the merger, however, said that congressional approval of such mergers and acquisitions have already been waived by virtue of the 1995 Public Telecommunications Policy Act (RA 7925), which ensures equality of treatment for franchise holders.

The argument is that since the requirement for congressional approval of such mergers among telecom franchise holders have already been removed in two other franchises -- that of RCPI and Sear -- then under the principle of equal protection, the same should be waived for the merger involving PLDT-Smart and Digitel-Sun.

"I don’t think the framers of RA 7925 or other franchises that waived congressional approval ever imagined a situation where PLDT or any entity would once again control 71 percent of the market," the Bayan Muna party-list solon said.

"A deal that would reverse the policy of de-monopolization in the telecommunications industry was certainly not contemplated by previous Congresses and should not be tolerated by the 15th Congress," he said.

Casino stressed that congressional approval is explicitly required in the franchises of Digitel, Digitel Mobile, PLDT, Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

He said the PLDT-Digitel merger is not only illegal, this will also "foster a monopoly in the sector and all the ills that come with overwhelming market power."

This might lead to non-competition and essentially higher prices for telecommunication services, he added.

"Digitel is not Mang Inasal that can be sold to any Tom, Dick or Harry. It is always subject to the limitations of its congressional franchise and the national interest. PLDT already owns Smart Communications Inc., Red Mobile, and Piltel. If it is allowed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to acquire Digitel, that would give PLDT 70 percent of the cellular mobile market, leaving Globe Telecom with a mere 30 percent. This is clearly a monopoly and this is not allowed under the 1987 Constitution as this will negatively impact on the public interest with regard to prices of cellular phone services. Government cannot allow any monopoly by any telecommunications company if it wants real competition to happen," he noted.

Casino cited Article 12, Section 19 of the Constitution which states that: "The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed."

"The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and the NTC should deny the merger since this cannot be done without congressional approval," he said.
Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, on the other hand, filed House Resolution 1169 urging the appropriate House committee to conduct an inquiry into the legality of the merger between PLDT and Digitel.

Herrera-Dy quoted Section 11 of Article 12 of the Constitution, which mandates that "no franchise, certificate or any other form of authorization to operate a public utility shall be granted except to Filipino citizens or to corporations or associations organized under the law of the Philippines at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens."

"Neither shall such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by Congress when the common good requires," she added.

Herrera-Dy said that Congress should initiate an investigation on the PLDT-Digitel merger "to ascertain that the transaction between the two companies would serve public interest and determine whether there were indeed violations committed."

Earlier, Ayala-led Globe Telecom has asked the NTC to intervene in the recent acquisition by PLDT of a majority stake in rival Digitel.

In a letter to the NTC, Globe warned that the PLDT-Digitel deal threatens free competition and ultimately gravely places at risk the public good, given the significant market power and influence now consolidated and vested in the PLDT Group. (Lilybeth G. Ison-PNA)




Related news items:
Newer news items:
Older news items:

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

380 aspiring fire officers take qualifying exams

21 Nov 2017 Hits:25 Be the first to comment!

More or less 380 applicants took the qualifying exam conducted by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP-IX) at the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology, yesterday. District Fire Marshal, CI Clint Cha facilitated the tests and said that the Qualifying Examination is for different ranks from Fire Officer 2 (FO2) to Senior Fire Officer 4 (SFO4) coming from the different cities and municipalities. He added that they took the examinations hoping to be included in the 300 quota for the entire Region-IX. BFP officials said the recruitment is aimed to address the lacking number of fire fighters. In case they will pass the exams, then their date of appointment to the higher post and oath taking will be on December 15, 2017. “This [...] Read more

Prev Next Page:

Cops, probers undergo training on drug cases

21 Nov 2017 Hits:20 Be the first to comment!

Members of the local police, investigators and other law enforcement agencies undergo a two-day enhancement training on handling drug cases in a bid to ensure successful implementation of the war [...] Read more


Submarine cable landing stations to speed-up internet connectivity – DOST

21 Nov 2017 Hits:21 Be the first to comment!

The slow internet connection in the country may soon be a thing of the past. This was according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as it welcomed the [...] Read more


LADY PANTHER WRESTLER… ERICA

20 Nov 2017 Hits:50 Be the first to comment!

Este si Erica Bataclan Martinez, su palayao “Ecang”, 17 años , 5’3” el altor,    Su mayores si Oscar B. Martinez y Lariza A. Bataclan Martinez, su hermano y hermana [...] Read more


FOOTBALL CHIEF… TENG

19 Nov 2017 Hits:50 Be the first to comment!

Este si VICENTE EDUARDO S. TORRES, ta llama conele “Teng/Pardz/Boboy”, 62 años de edad , casao y su esposa si Esther Facultad Torres Y diila anak si Pompeyo F. Torres [...] Read more


AboitizPower sustains strong foothold in hydropower business

18 Nov 2017 Hits:120 Be the first to comment!

On the back of a strong demand for renewable energy (RE), AboitizPower continues to ramp up its portfolio of generation facilities across the Philippines. AboitizPower's subsidiary, SN AboitizPower, has completed the [...] Read more


ZAMBOANGA FOOTBALL - ROLL D BALL

18 Nov 2017 Hits:66 Be the first to comment!

Del Nov. 12, 2017 Domingo el Segundo semana de Season long Zamboanga Football league. El primer juego tan feature cun Resto del Mundo contra  Zamboanga United . Ta pricura man [...] Read more


Police shift war on drugs to anti-gun-for-hire drive

17 Nov 2017 Hits:81 Be the first to comment!

Police regional director and vice chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) for Western Mindanao Chief Supt. Billy Beltran announced recently that all police operatives previously assigned in [...] Read more


Military launch rescue ops for latest victims of ASG

17 Nov 2017 Hits:111 Be the first to comment!

Government troops are now conducting operations to rescue the six people, including two children, who have been abducted by about 15 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu, according to [...] Read more


OCENR sets city-wide clean up on Nov 25

17 Nov 2017 Hits:59 Be the first to comment!

The City Government through the Office of the City Environment and Natural Resources (OCENR) will head a city-wide clean up drive on November 25. “We are going to have a city-wide [...] Read more


2017 MUAY THAI NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

17 Nov 2017 Hits:75 Be the first to comment!

Este si Leo Gandy Serrano, 15 años , Grade 10 na Claret High School Ciudad de Zamboanga . Ya principia juga Muay Thai cuando Grade 5 ele , producto le [...] Read more


Zambopen PWDs endorse Kahil as AVRC III head

16 Nov 2017 Hits:78 Be the first to comment!

The Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Zamboanga Peninsula as represented by their chosen leaders have strongly endorsed Zamboangueno Teddy Kahil as head of the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center (AVRC) in [...] Read more


City SWM Board meet set today

16 Nov 2017 Hits:76 Be the first to comment!

The City Solid Waste Management Board will meet today, November 16, to prepare for the full implementation of the solid waste management ordinance in the City slated on November 27. According [...] Read more


BAP BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS AND ACTIVITIES

16 Nov 2017 Hits:65 Be the first to comment!

Venue : Southern west campus Gym, San Jose Gusu. Category 40 and 50 years old Master division. Team Standing:    WIN         LOSS J VINCE            [...] Read more


Phil. Coast Guard SWM joins clean-up drive

15 Nov 2017 Hits:75 Be the first to comment!

The Philippine Costal Guard Auxiliary SWM, a volunteer organization, joined the International Costal Clean-up drive (ICC 2017) last recently from 5:00 in the morning to 12:00 noon along the coastal [...] Read more


Mendicants rounded up by the CSWDO

15 Nov 2017 Hits:113 Be the first to comment!

At least 266 mendicants and vagrants were rescued from the various streets of the city proper by the newly created Task Force Mendicants, according to Assistant Social Welfare Officer Dr. [...] Read more


GOLDEN BOY SWIMMER…. GRANT VINCCI

15 Nov 2017 Hits:72 Be the first to comment!

Juego de Zamboanga 2017 Swimming Elementary boys, MVP – GRANT VINCCI VILLANUEVA , Grade 6 na Ateneo de Zamboanga University . Ya saka el 5 Gold medalla na 5 individual [...] Read more


15TH LANUZA SURFING FESTIVAL WINNERS ANNOUNCED

14 Nov 2017 Hits:280 Be the first to comment!

Doot Poktoy, Lanuza Surigao Del Sur Philippines– After almost a week long of festivities, the 15th Lanuza Surfing Festival announces Neil Sanchez (Baler), Mark Aguila (Baler), Daisy Valdez (La Union), [...] Read more


Seven hurt in three road mishaps

14 Nov 2017 Hits:110 Be the first to comment!

Seven people were injured in three separate road accidents in Barangays Buenavista and Talisayan, Zamboanga City over the weekend. In Sitio Buntot, Buenavista, an 11-year-old pedestrian identified as Reynalyn Rodriguez y [...] Read more