By Emmie Abadilla
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Selection Committee (SC) has denied the two motions for reconsideration (MR) filed by SEAR Telecoms, the consortium of the Luis “Chavit” Singson Group of Companies and Mindanao-based TierOne Communications which was disqualified reportedly for incomplete and non-compliant submission of documents.
The two must now decide whether to cough up P10 million each to appeal the decision by Thursday (November 15).
The first MR denied was for SEAR’s New Major Player (NMP) bid after failing to come up with the required participation security via a P700 million Letter of Credit.
In the second MR which was similarly junked, SEAR sought that provisional NMP – Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) – be declared guilty of misrepresentation of facts and concealing material evidence.
The committee maintained the issue “a private dispute – one that it had no jurisdiction to resolve.”
The NTC-SC also denied the MR of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) for non compliance with the bidding’s technical requirement.
During last week’s bidding, James Velasquez, president and CEO of PT&T, maintained they were prepared to cough up P10 million to appeal their case.
However, as of press time, “the telco management and its legal team are currently reviewing the Selection Committee’s denial of the Motion for Reconsideration to determine the next course of action that the company will take.”
SEAR was considering elevating its case before either the regional trial court of Quezon City or Makati, as early as last week.
Telecom regulators “in a rushed resolution, denied our motion” and “violated its own rules”, according to SEAR’s statement released to media Monday night.
The selection committee, according to SEAR also “washed its hands” and “simplistically” dismissed SEAR’s contention that Mislatel, the provisional new major player deceived the government and breached its contract with a subsidiary of SEAR Telecom.
“In our MR, we sought that Mislatel be declared guilty of misrepresentation of facts and concealing material evidence,” SEAR’s Telecom underscored. However, telecom regulators “regarded our grounds as a private dispute – one that it had no jurisdiction to resolve”.
“In our view, Mislatel violated the NTC-SC’s rules when it partnered with Udenna/Chelsea Logistics/China Telecom, and participated in the bidding, without disclosing the subsistence of a valid contract and legally binding undertakings that prevents it from doing so.”
“The NTC-SC’s ruling unmasks its insensitivity and total lack of appreciation of the level of diligence required in meticulously choosing a new NMP,” SEAR said.
“They failed to appreciate that, although the Agreement is only between Mislatel and Digiphil, such is relevant in determining the former’s legal capacity to enter into a consortium with Udenna, Chelsea Logistics and China Telecom.”
In so doing, regulators “completely missed the very point and purpose of the selection process – to choose a New Major Player that is fully qualified, undoubtedly eligible, and one that had no hindrance or limitation in its ability to participate in the bidding.”
“The NTC-SC must at the very least take a keen interest to determine for itself whether its chosen NMP in fact truthfully represented itself to be qualified to participate. Udenna and Chelsea, especially China Telecom, a state-owned corporation, would surely not want to be a part of any fraud,” SEAR added.