NTC should answer questions regarding its technical audit of Dito—Hontiveros

Published March 11, 2021, 3:12 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should answer the questions raised by advocacy groups regarding its first technical audit on Dito Telecommunity last February.

Senator Risa Hontiveros (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the NTC should respond to the concerns raised by information and technology (ICT) group Democracy.Net.Ph that pointed to alleged deficiencies in its technical audit of Dito, the country’s third telecommunications company (telco).

Democracy.Net.Ph’s co-founder Pierre Galla on Wednesday, March 10, told the Senate Committee on Public Services that the NTC only allowed the sampling of a limited number of barangays to determine if Dito was able to meet its first year commitment to the government.

Instead of testing more than 8,800 barangays to prove that Dito fulfilled its promise to cover 37 percent of the Philippine population, Galla said NTC only allowed a sampling of 2,671 barangays.

Democracy.Net.Ph also claimed NTC covered only 200 cell sites, out of Dito’s 1,602 active sites.

“The NTC should answer the questions raised by advocacy groups regarding its technical audit of Dito,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Thursday, March 11.

“If the agency would not be able to do so, it will only add to the public’s suspicion that it may be at the behest of the China-backed third telco,” she stressed.

“Hawak sa leeg din ba ng Tsina ang sarili nating ahensya (Is China holding our own agency by the neck?)” the senator asked.

The Senate public services panel, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, on Wednesday approved the 25-year franchise renewal application of Dito after the new major telco showed proof it had delivered its service commitments.

Poe had earlier said that the committee will not grant Dito’s application if it fails to show proof it can deliver its pledges.

Hontiveros, however, said the technical auditing process conducted by the NTC on Dito raised more questions rather than answers.

“There are more questions that need to be answered: Has undue partiality really been shown to Dito during both the bidding and the audit process?” she asked.

“Under this administration, a declared ally of the Chinese regime, could Dito have lost the bidding and is there really a chance it will not pass this audit?” she pointed out.

Dito, backed by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and state-run China Telecom, has started commercial operations in limited areas in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao last March 8.