By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang reported that the entry of a third telecommunications firm in the country may not happen by the end of the first quarter of 2018 as promised.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, citing a report from the Department of Communications and Information Technology (DICT), made the statement in a press briefing in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte Saturday.
According to Roque, he was not sure about President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s reaction to the report, but assured that this will be discussed on the Cabinet meeting on Monday.
“Mayroon pong ulat, nanggaling sa DICT na baka hindi raw po magkaroon ng katuparan iyong pagpasok ng third telecom player (There is a report from the DICT that there may entry of the third telecom player may not happen) by the end of this first quarter,” Roque said.
“Hindi ko pa po alam kung anong paninindigan ni Presidente diyan pero sa Lunes po mayroon kaming Cabinet meeting at sa Cabinet meeting po, una sa agenda iyong rehabilitation ng Marawi. Pangalawa sa agenda is the third telecoms player. So sigurado po iyang idi-discuss sa Cabinet meeting sa Lunes (I still don’t know what is the President’s stand on this but we will have a Cabinet meeting on Monday. First on the agenda is the Marawi rehabilitation, second is the third telecoms player. So I’m sure it will be discussed),”
President Duterte had ordered the DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to facilitate the entry of the third telecoms player in the country and assure that it is up and running before the end of March, 2018.
It was also revealed that Duterte personally offered the third slot to the Chinese government during his bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Malacañang last November, 2017.
A month after, Malacañang announced that China has nominated state-run China Telecom to be the third telecoms player in the Philippines.
However, Malacañang said that the third slot remained open to other countries after senators expressed concern over national cybersecurity once China Telecom enters the Philippine telecommunications field.
As China Telecom has yet to find a local partner with an existing franchise in order to comply with the country’s constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership to 40 percent, Malacañang revealed that three other Asian countries were now also interested in the third slot.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar announced in a radio interview that South Korean multinational conglomerate LG Corporation was interested to be the third telecommunications service provider in the Philippines.
“Ito iyong makikipag-partner na Korean company [with PT&T]. So, interesado daw ang LG (This is the Korean company who wants to party with PT&T. LG is interested), according to my source,” Andanar said in an interview last month.
“So this will be very exciting. Kasi kung mayroon ka namang ganiyang kalaking kumpanya na mag-i-invest sa Pilipinas (Because if you have this large of a company wanting to invest in the Philippines) with PT&T (Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp.), then it becomes a very exciting telco industry for the Philippines this 2018,” he added.
Aside from LG, DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio revealed that Japan’s second biggest telecommunications company KDDI Corporation expressed eagerness to enter the telecoms playing field.
“They are very much interested and in fact they are seeking help with the department to find, or to partner with a Filipino telco (telecommunications company),” Rio said in a radio interview, noting that Japan’s largest telco, NTT, is already partnered with PLDT.
Rio also revealed that a Taiwanese telco was also interested, but did not reveal further details.
“May mga non-disclosure sila, kaya ho hanggang hindi ho magpirmahan sila ay hindi na talaga dini-disclose (They have a non-disclosure so until they sign contracts, we can’t disclose the name of this firm),” Rio said when asked about the name of the Taiwanese firm.
Rio said that whoever will have the best offer in the bidding will become the third telecommunications player in the country to compete against the supposed duopoly of Globe Telecom and PLDT.
Rio explained that the financial clout of the foreign partner was their prime consideration so they will not end up selling their shares to existing telco players in the country.
He said that they will include in the contract that the winning bidder will not be allowed to sell their shares to existing telecommunications companies.