House panel defers delibs on transfer of Mislatel control to Dennis Uy group
MANILA, Philippines — Amid disagreements, the House legislative franchises panel has suspended its deliberations on the proposed transfer of the controlling interest of Mindanao Islamic Telephone (Mislatel) Company, Inc. to its three other partners in the Mislatel Consortium.
Mislatel Company and Uy’s Udenna Corporation (Udenna) and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. (Chelsea) have teamed up with the China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom) to form the Mislatel Group which was declared as the third major player in the telecommunications (telco) market in the country by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last November 7.
Uy is a Davao-based businessman who was reportedly a major campaign donor of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua filed House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) No. 23 on December 3.
In his speech during the committee meeting on Monday, Cua emphasized the “urgency” of the matter as the entry of the new telco player remains a “priority” of the Duterte administration.
But Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 1st District Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. said there is a need to scrutinize the alleged pending legal case of Mislatel with another player Digiphil before approving the measure. Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta also said the NTC should fully explain its roadmap on the newest telco.
“We have to have a third telco but let’s do it properly,” Pichay said, who then moved to invite Digiphil before the panel “to hear their side.”
Marcoleta said: “The NTC seems to be so confident (of the third telco’s commitments)… Nagmamadali po tayo eh.”
Earlier in November, Raoul Creencia — who represented Sear Telecommunications Inc., another third telco bidder — said they would file legal cases against Mislatel for allegedly allowing other parties to use its franchise despite having an agreement with his group’s partner, Digiphil Technology Inc.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza opposed Pichay saying “we should act on this (measure) with dispatch,” warning that the “purely corporate dispute” might “take years to untangle.”
Atienza found an ally in Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.
“Ano ang pakialam ng Kongreso sa away ninyo? (Mislatel and Digiphil)… Ang pakilaman ng Kongreso compliant ba kayo sa national security requirement,” he said.
Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero Quimbo also supported Atienza, saying the committee’s task was just to evaluate the proposed transfer of the controlling shares of Mislatel.
Pichay’s motion to summon Digiphil was not acted upon until the meeting was abruptly adjourned after a brief tension between Garbin and Marcoleta. Garbin apparently thought Marcoleta called him “not a lawyer” which he countered. Marcoleta then apologized to Garbin and explained that the latter misheard him.
After talking among themselves, the panel later resumed their meeting only to suspend it again because Atienza was against inviting Digiphil. They resumed again and agreed to invite Digiphil to the continuation of the deliberations on Tuesday.
Once HCR 23 is approved by both chambers of Congress, the Udenna, Chelsea and China Telecom would subscribe into the increase in shareholdings of Mislatel which would result in the three entities owning majority and controlling interest in Mislatel.
This is in accordance with the binding bidding agreement duly executed by and among the four entities and in compliance with NTC’s requirements on its selection of the newest telco competitor.
Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8627 or the franchise granted to Mislatel on April 19, 1998, provides that the controlling interest of Mislatel “shall not be transferred, whether as a whole or in parts and whether simultaneously or contemporaneously, to any such person, firm, company, corporation, or entity without the prior approval of the Congress of the Philippines.” /je
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