House resolution seeks probe of PLDT-Globe buyout of SMC telco assets

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Akbayan party-list rep. Tom Villarin has filed a resolution directing fellow lawmakers to conduct an inquiry into the P70-billion deal contracted by PLDT and Globe Telecom with San Miguel Corporation.

Akbayan party-list rep. Tom Villarin being interviewed during a forum on the PLDT-Globe-SMC deal at the Ateneo de Manila University on Monday, Aug. 1
Akbayan party-list rep. Tom Villarin being interviewed during a forum on the PLDT-Globe-SMC deal at the Ateneo de Manila University on Monday, Aug. 1

“Consumers are complaining of poor services and exorbitant rates. This is precisely one of the ill effects of their exclusive control over the telco industry,” Villarin said.

Officially filed on July 19, House Resolution No. 93 directs the Committee on Trade and Industry to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the review currently being undertaken by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on PLDT and Globe?s acquisition of all telco interests previously owned by SMC.

“We want to get to the root cause of this issue and ascertain whether or not PLDT and Globe’s joint purchase was indeed for the benefit of consumers and the public in general,” the lawmaker added.

However, the PCC review was met with initial obstacles after the telco giants separately applied for a restraining order from the Court of Appeals (CA) against the PCC. The CA has already denied Globe Telecom’s application for a TRO.

“They are already giants who deliver poor service. Now we are being led to believe that they can perform better by being bigger,” Villarin stressed.

The PCC was established upon the passage of Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act.

Villamarin first revealed the filing of the resolution during a public forum on the telco deal held at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

At the forum, which was organized by the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) and Internet Society Philippines Chapter, members of civil society groups and industry stakeholders were one in saying that multi-billion transaction is a threat to the local telco industry and violates anti-competition laws.

Lawyer Gigo Alampay, a consultant of the PCC, said during the forum that the deal should be reviewed by the anti-trust body, considering its huge effect on the market. He said PLDT and Globe obviously colluded when they agreed to buy SMC’s telco assets, violating anti-competition laws.

On the other hand, independent ICT policy researcher Grace Mirandilla-Santos said the public should have been consulted via public hearings before the deal was announced by the telcos. ?Consumers are always being left out in these big telco mergers. We should also have a say on important deals in the industry,? Mirandilla-Santos said.

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