Is the PCC usurping DICT and NTC? » Manila Bulletin News



By Floro Mercene

Floro M. Mercene

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) refuses to heed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) TRO blocking its planned review of PLDT and Globe’s deal with San Miguel Corp. for the acquisition of Vega Telecom, Inc., New Century Telecoms, and eTelco, Inc.

It filed a petition on April 18, 2017, before the Supreme Court through the Solicitor General to lift the CA’s order that has since prevented any review.

PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan insisted that they “will not back down or be intimidated by companies who have grown accustomed to unregulated business practices that hamper competition and ultimately hurt the consumers.”

By saying that the “companies have grown accustomed to unregulated business practices that hamper competition and ultimately hurt the consumers,” he and the PCC are in effect saying that NTC and DICT have not been and are not doing their jobs.

The NTC approved last May, 2016, the co-use by PLDT and Globe of the frequencies held by Vega’s units following the massive P70-billion transaction. NTC Deputy Commissioner Cabarios cited the deal and the co-use of frequencies as a “clear benefit to the public.”

DICT has prioritized the National Broadband Network and urged PLDT and Globe to continue to build the infrastructure needed as well as utilize their spectrum allocations in order to improve Internet speed in the country.

In spite of these, the PCC is bent on disregarding these agencies’ official acts and seems to prefer that the beneficial 700 MHz be unutilized again – just as when San Miguel Corporation held these assets for so long.

When the PCC acts like this, it is in fact intervening in the work and decisions of both NTC and DICT with regard to the regulation of the telco industry.

Most especially in issues like these that involve the assignment and use of frequencies, the PCC is clearly overstepping its role.

It is clear that NTC and DICT, with full authorization from the Executive and Legislative branches, are the mandated regulators and policy-setting agencies for telco and information and communication technology industries for the benefit of the public.

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