Poe: Entry of third telco player to ‘go on full blast’
Senator Grace Poe said that the entry of a third telecommunications (telco) player would “go on full blast” after she endorsed a bill that would amend the Public Service Act of 1936.
“Senate Bill No. 1754, which seeks to amend Commonwealth Act No. 146, would promote ‘meaningful competition’ in the country’s telecommunications sector once it becomes a law, said Poe,” chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.
“Sa mga sinabi rin ng ating Pangulo na third telco player, fourth o fifth, kung meron man, kailangan ng batas na magbibigay awtoridad para ito ay maging isang realidad,” Poe said in a statement issued Wednesday.
(Of the statements coming from the President of having a third telco player, fourth or fifth if possible, a law is needed to authorize this and to make it become a reality.)
“Napakinggan na po natin kung paano paginhawahin at pagandahin ang estado ng ating mga kababayan. Oras na po upang tayo ay tumugon at umaksyon,” the senator said.
(We have heard how to make the status of our countrymen better. This is the time for us to answer to the call.)
The senator said she expects immediate Senate action when sessions resume in May. Congress would go on recess starting Thursday, March 22.
“Inaasahan po nating ang karamihan ng public services ay magiging bukas sa malawakang kompetisyon. A meaningful competition will allow more players, domestic and foreign, to slug it out to win the satisfaction of the Filipino people,” Poe said.
(We are hoping that a lot of public services will open up for a wider competition.)
Once the measure is approved, Poe said that foreign equity restrictions would no longer apply to telecommunications services.
The senator noted that the 1987 Constitution restricts operation of a public utility to companies whose ownership was at least 60 percent Filipino-owned.
The Public Service Act, Poe said, only provided a list and not a definition of public services and no definition of a public utility.
Electricity (distribution and transmission), water, transportation, telecommunications and other essential services fall under the foreign equity rule mandated by the Constitution, the senator explained.
“Thus, foreign equity restrictions also apply to public utilities like telecommunications, electricity, water and transportation, among others,” Poe said.
“Once the measure is approved, only the electric power distribution and transmission, water pipeline distribution and sewerage pipeline system are restricted,” she added.
In addition, Poe said that the measure sought to improve the quality of the goods and services of public service providers and lower the costs of their goods and services at the same time.
Under the measure, the senator said that companies are expected to provide better services or they will face a fine of up to P5 million per day of violation plus “disgorgement of profits” and additional “treble damages.”
The existing law only imposes a measly fine of P200 per day of violation, she said.
“Sa ganitong paraan, magpapaligsahan ang mga ito sa pagbibigay ng de-kalidad na serbisyo at produkto sa pinakamababang presyo para sa mga Pilipino. Inaasahan nating burahin na ang ‘take it or leave it’ attitude ng mga nagpakasasa sa monopolya nitong mga nakaraang dekada o siglo,” the senator said.
(Through this, companies will compete in providing a better service and products with the lowest price for Filipinos. We are here to erase the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude that we have been experiencing from those monopolizing the industry in the past decades or centuries.) /jpv
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