By Genalyn Kabiling
President Dutert has nothing to do with the selection of a consortium involving a Davao-based businessman as the third telecommunications player in the country, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has rejected speculations that the President’s ties with businessman Dennis Uy influenced the bidding process for the new major telco player, saying Duterte does not meddle in government transactions.
“I think it’s a baseless assumption because, given the character of this President, it’s far-fetched. As we all know, relationship, alliances, friendship do not matter with this President,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“What matters to him is you follow the law and I’ll be with you. You don’t follow it and I’ll be against you,” Panelo said,” he added.
Panelo maintained that the Mislatel consortium passed the preliminary screening for new major player without any intervention from the President.
The consortium, which includes China Telecom, and Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holding Corp, recently emerged as the lone qualified bidder in the telco race, edging out two other rivals.
“The President’s policy is not to interfere with his departments as well as the committees created by those departments so the President has nothing to do with any of those bidding, any of those negotiations or contracts. That’s the policy of the President and it holds until the end of his term,” he said.
Amid reports the Davao businessman was one of the top campaign contributors of Duterte in the last presidential elections, Panelo said he could say if the President and Uy were close friends.
“It doesn’t make you close to the President if you support the President,” he said.
Asked if he vouching for the integrity of Mislatel consortium, Panelo said: “For as long as they follow the legal requirements, then the assumption is that they are qualified.”
Even as Mislatel emerged as new major player, Panelo said the losing bidders could still appeal their cases before relevant authorities.
“If one or two of them have not satisfied the requirements, this early, one of them will have to win over them. And then again as I said, there is still a remedy for them, they can appeal and point out why they should be the ones chosen by the committee,” he said.