Public interest will be of highest importance in releasing the Senate committee position on the third telco franchise row, Sen. Grace Poe said on Thursday, January 24.
Poe, the public services panel chair, maintained she wants the third telco selection to “move forward for the interest of our country” of having a fast, reliable and cost-efficient telco service provider. She said her committee will come up with its position to settle the issue on the status of Mislatel’s franchise that Congress had granted in 1998.
“Dapat sa umpisa pa lamang noong sila ay napili, dapat mayroon na silang lehitimong prangkisa… Pero gaya nga ng sinabi ko, ang batas ay hindi perpekto, ang natutunan natin dito, kailangan nating mas linawin ang probisyon at ang iniisip ko bilang chairman ay kung anong makakabuti sa ating bayan,” Poe told reporters after the hearing on the third telco on Thursday, January 24.
“Ano ba ang intensyon natin? Gusto nating mura ang serbisyo pero magaling. So, anong mas malaking interes ang mananaig dito?” Poe stressed.
Poe said her committee will sift through varying opinions and decide amid contentions on the vagueness of the franchise provisions, especially as regards who should decide that a franchise is valid or not.
“For the interest of the public, definitely mamadaliin namin na magkaroon ng opinyon ukol dito, kung ano ba ‘yung posisyon ng Senado at sana before the February 17 [deadline],” Poe said referring to the date of submission of Mislatel’s documents.
“Kailangang upuan ito nang mabuti ng mga miyembro ng committee on public services. Unang-una, lehitimo ba ang franchise nila? Pangalawa, kung hindi lehitimo, kanselado ba ang kanilang bid? Pangatlo, kung mag-a-apply sila at ngayon pa lang ibibigay, sapat na ba ‘yun? Dahil ang ibig sabihin, noong sila ay unang nabigyan ng award nitong bid na ito, hindi pa pala sila qualified,” Poe stated.
At the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned the validity of Mislatel’s franchise because of the company’s failure to comply with the conditions: that a congressional approval is needed before any sale, lease, or transfer of control and that operations should commence within three years from franchise approval.
For her part, Poe said it should be up to Congress because she said the one who determines whether a franchise is valid is the one who granted.
Last November, the government chose Mislatel Consortium composed of Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics and Chinese state-owned China Telecommunications Corp.
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said there is an ongoing 90-day post-qualification assessment, but senators maintained the issue should have been resolved even before Mislatel was chosen as the winning bidder.