Senate OKs transfer of Mislatel ownership to consortium
Updated (7:20 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has adopted a measure transferring the ownership of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc. (Mislatel) to the Mislatel consortium.
Three senators voted against House Concurrent Resolution 23, which seeks the transfer of ownership of Mislatel to the consortium owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and state-owned China Telecom.
The three who voted against the resolution are Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Panfilo Lacson.
The consortium was recently named as the provisional third telecommunications player in the country.
Drilon and Hontiveros are opposition members while Lacson is part of the Senate majority bloc.
Drilon earlier claimed that Mislatel’s franchise was deemed “ipso facto” revoked for various violations.
One of these violations, Drilon said, was Mislatel’s failure to get prior consent from Congress when the company sold its majority shares to the consortium in 2015.
The opposition leader also noted the franchisee’s own admission that the company failed to operate since Congress granted its franchise in 1998 through Republic Act 8627.
Drilon said this was in violation of Section 7 of the said law, which provides that the franchise “shall be deemed ipso facto revoked, in the event the franchisee fails to commence operations within one year from approval; operate continuously for 2 years, or commence operations within 3 years from effectivity.”
But Senator Grace Poe reiterated that the green light for Mislatel to continue operating should not prevent interested parties from availing of legal remedies in the courts.
Poe is chair of the Senate committee on public services committee that conducted hearings on the issue.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Poe said she sponsored the measure because of public’s “desperation” to have better telco services.
“Lahat tayo nananabik na magkaroon ng mabilis na internet (We are all excited to have fast internet). It’s for national interest that I’m doing this,” she further explained.
Besides, she said, Mislatel also risks losing more than P25 billion in performance bond should it mess up with its commitments in the first year of its operation.
Poe said Congress can also alter, modify, amend or repeal Mislatel’s franchise should it fail to make good its commitments regarding coverage and internet speed.
The approval of the measure, she said, does not mean an automatic renewal of Mislatel’s franchise, which set to expire in 2023. /ee
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