PT&T: Criteria for 3rd telco 'unfair,' 'discriminatory'

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FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — On the eve of the deadline to bid for the third major telecommunications company status, a prospective bidder filed a petition with the Makati City Regional Trial Court questioning a requirement of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the process.

James Velasquez, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) president and chief executive officer, said the NTC did not give them a certification that they have been operating on a national scale for the last 10 years. The certification is a requirement in the terms of reference (TOR) to bid for new major player (NMP) status in the telco industry.

Velasquez said there were "sudden changes" in the bidding process requirements.

He said the final TOR released by the Department of Information and Communications Technology stated the term "national scale" refers to "the provisioning, delivery, and operations of telecommunications services for a country, or particular regions thereof."

He added the provision was amended through an NMP bulletin without public consultation.

PT&T questioned the NTC's classification of a foreign bidder's "regional operations" in its home country as one of "national scale." The same, however, does not apply for local bidders.

Based on the new requirement, local firms should have operations in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao to be considered as having national-scale operations.

Velasquez called the change, which he said happened after it bought the bid documents, "anti-Filipino" and "discriminatory against local players."

"We believe that the NTC's refusal to issue the said certification is without basis since it is premised on a restrictive interpretation of the term 'national scale' as it heavily favors foreign telecommunications companies who want to participate in the 3rd telco bidding," Velasquez said.

According to PT&T, it has been in operation for 56 years in the Metro Manila, Northern Luzon, and Southern Luzon.

Despite their concern, Velasquez said he does not believe the selection process will be "politicized."

He saud PT&T has been "very supportive" of the selection process except for the "national scale" requirement that it is now contesting.

Velasquez also confirmed they will still submit their bid on November 7, explaining that PT&T has no intention to delay the process.

"I would like to emphasize that we are not asking the court to stop or restrain the third telco bidding. What we are asking is for the court to correctly interpret the term 'national scale' and in the meantime compel the NTC to accept the NMP bid that the PT&T will submit without the required certification that we have been asking for until such time that the case is finally settled," Velasquez explained.

PT&T is the second prospective bidder to question the TOR before the court.

Earlier, NOW Telecom filed a case against the NTC over alleged "money-making" schemes in the terms of reference, claiming that the process is "anti-Filipino." A Manila court has denied the company's application for a writ of preliminary injunction on some portions of the TOR.