Gov't telco body denies amending terms of reference for 3rd major player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — The government's telecommunications body on Monday denied changing the terms of reference (TOR) used to select the Philippines' third major player, refuting claims made by the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (PT&T).

During the hearing at the Senate, PT&T assailed National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issuance of two bidding bulletins which set provisions on the requirement for "regional operations" for foreign bidders and a national scope for domestic bidders.

"The first one revised the terms of reference by limiting the regional scale of operations being equivalent to national scale of operations," PT&T said. "This had the effect honor of completely excluding PT&T and any other standalone Filipino telco participating," it added.

But, NTC Chairperson Atty. Gamaliel Cordoba said the bulletins issued by the selection committee just clarified the TOR to reflect standards in other countries.

"There was no amendment to the terms of reference," he said.

Department of Information and Communications Technology's Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the claims made by PT&T were its "own interpretation." However, PT&T argued against this.

"The terms of reference are very clear. There is no room for interpretation," PT&T's legal counsel said.

PT&T then said only the oversight committee, which created the selection committee, has the power to revise the TOR. But Rio, a member of the oversight committee, said there were no objections to the decisions NTC made.

"All their decisions were noted by the oversight committee," Rio explained.

The complaint was the basis of PT&T's case filed before the Supreme Court against NTC. PT&T was disqualified from the third telco bidding process due to failure to submit a Certification of Technical Capability.

Mislatel Consortium was announced the country's new telco player on November 7, but PT&T also questioned the firm's lack of a subsisting Congressional franchise.