Poe warns DITO of possible franchise revocation if it misses launch by July 2021
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday warned DITO Telecommunity (formerly Mislatel), that it could face possible revocation of its franchise should it fail to deliver on its first-year commitment to the government by July next year.
“By July of next year, kung hindi pa sila talagang nakakapagbigay ng kanilang mga prinomeso, e maaari na talagang bawiin yung kanilang prangkisa,” Poe said in an interview over dzMM’s Teleradyo.
(By July of next year, if they would still fail to deliver on their commitment, there’s a possibility that they would have their franchise revoked.)
“Ang DITO, ang kanilang franchise ay hindi 25 years ha. Hanggang 2023 lang, sapagkat nag-take over lang sila ng existing franchise. So kung yan ang magiging basehan, e kung hindi talaga silang nagbigay ng kanilang mga napangako at ang serbisyo nila ay hindi maganda, by 2023 pwedeng i-cancel ang kanilang prangkisa,” she added.
(DITO’s franchise is not for 25 years, it’s only until 2023 because they just took over an existing franchise. So if that will be our basis, if they will not deliver on their promise and if their service is no good, by 2023, we can cancel their franchise.)
Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, was being asked about the status of the country’s internet service following President Rodrigo Duterte’s expropriation warning against PLDT Smart and Globe Telecom.
DITO is owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and state-run China Telecom. It was named as the third major telco player to break the duopoly of Smart and Globe in the telecommunications industry and is seen to improve internet service in the country.
Under its franchise, DITO is obliged to cover at least 37 percent of the population, with an average minimum internet speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps). They are also required to put up 2,500 cell towers by July 8, 2020.
But Poe said DITO has so far only put up 600 cell towers.
DITO earlier requested and secured a 6-month extension from the government to catch up with its franchise promise, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This grace period is extendable for six more months, Poe noted.
This means that if DITO would still fail to deliver on its commitment to the government by July 2021, Congress may revoke its franchise, she said.
“Sa ngayon, nakalusot pa ang DITO, so bibigyan sila…by January pwede na silang mag-commercial launch. So tignan natin. January yung first six months. Pagka hindi pa sila nag-ano dun, medyo meron pa silang six months yun ang pagkakaintindi ko. So babalik na naman ng July ,” the senator said.
(So now, DITO was able to pull through. With the grace period, they will be given until January next year to have its commercial launch. So we’ll see. But if they still fail to complete their promise, I understand the grace period can still be extended to until July 2021.)
Poe also reminded DITO of the P25-billion performance bond that it will have to pay the government should it not deliver on its promise.
“Wag nating kalilimutan na meron silang nakaambang na P25 billion na bond, na pag hindi nila natugunan yung kanilang mga pangako,” she said.
(We should not forget that there is a P25-billion bond they would need to pay if they fail on their promise.)
The senator further underscored that it is important for state regulators as well as Congress—considering its oversight function over DITO’s franchise—to ensure that the bond will be collected should the company fail to complete its commitment.
“Kailangan natin ipatupad yan dahil kung hindi walang maniniwala na sa mga kontrata sa gobyerno at sasabihin ‘Bakit yan pinalusot?’” Poe said.
(We need to implement this because otherwise, the public will no longer trust government contracts ‘Why were they able to escape their commitment?)
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