Senate set to vote on Mislatel change of ownership

Sen. Grace Poe said the Senate will vote on Wednesday, February 6, on a measure seeking the transfer of ownership of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc. (Mislatel) to a consortium recently named by the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission as the third telco.

Poe presented House Resolution 23, which seeks the transfer of Mislatel’s ownership to the consortium owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and state-owned China Telecom, to the Senate plenary on Monday night for debates.

“As chair, I sponsored it. It will still go through a vote. The reason why we did this is because this is the mandate of the Senate. I cannot decide on it as chairman [alone]. It has to be the collective wisdom of the body,” said Poe in a television interview.

Poe, the Senate public services committee chair, explained her panel removed any reference to Mislatel as the third telco or the new major player since the validity of its franchise could still be questioned in courts.

“We took out anything that pertains to calling Mislatel a new major player or third telco. We’re treating it as a regular franchise because later on someone might go to the court and say Congress recognized Mislatel as the third telco,” Poe added.

Poe said even if the Senate gives the green light for Mislatel to continue operating, interested parties are not precluded to avail of legal remedies in the courts.

She said she sponsored the measure because of the public’s “desperation” to have a new player that promises better telco services and because she feels it would be “unfair” not to present it on the floor to allow senators to debate on the issue.

“Lahat tayo nananabik na magkaroon ng mabilis na Internet. It’s for national interest that I’m doing this,” said Poe.

Poe said Mislatel also risks losing more than P25 billion in performance bond should they mess up with their commitments in the first year of their operation.

Poe said the resolution does not in any way preclude Congress from altering, modifying, amending or repealing Mislatel’s franchise granted under Republic Act 8627 should it fail to make good its commitments regarding coverage and internet speed. It does not also mean an automatic renewal of its franchise that is set to expire in 2023, she added.

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