Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares on Thursday, May 8, called on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to order mobile operators to include interest payments in their refund to subscribers.
Colmenares also said the NTC should increase the fine it imposed on the telcos for their refusal to implement the NTC decision to lower SMS rates by P0.20 since 2011.
On Wednesday, May 7, the NTC finalized its order for the country?s telcos — Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and Digital Mobile Philippines — to slash their short message service (SMS) rate to ?other networks? to P.80 from P1.00 The P.20 reduction in SMS cost was based on NTC Memorandum Circular no. 02-10-2011.
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?This refund is a result of the vigilance and various protests by the public since 2011, but we have to press our demands further to preempt further delay in the refund,? said Colmenares.
?We call on the NTC to strictly impose its order for immediate refund. Aside from the P7.3-billion refund, the telcos should also be ordered to pay legal interest of at least P438 million to the subscribers. After all, the telcos earned hundreds of millions in interest for just depositing the overcharged billions in banks,? the activist lawmaker said.
Colmenares said the regulatory body should increase its P200 per day fine to P20,000 per day to ?teach the telcos a lesson.?
?The fine must be [must also go to the] subscribers instead of the NTC since it is the public who suffered injury and not the government,? Colmenares said.
?We also call on Speaker Sonny Belmonte of the House of Representatives to prioritize House Bill 1776 which aims to regulate telco rates, require detailed billing of prepaid credits and other service improvements to protect subscribers from another overcharge by greedy telcos,? said Colmenares.
?It?s about time we abandon the deregulation policy of government and protect the people?s interest against rapacious corporations,? he added, noting that HB 1776 was filed on July 24 but has not been tackled yet by the committee handling it. — Sammy F. Martin, PNA