Duterte signs law renewing DITO franchise

Published May 18, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country’s third major telecommunication company can operate for another 25 years based on a new law signed by President Duterte.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

Republic Act No. 11537 allows Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc., currently known as Dito Telecommunity Corporation, “to construct, establish, install, maintain and operate wire and/or wireless telecommunications systems” in the country for another 25 years.

“This franchise shall be extended and in effect for a period of 25 years from its expiration on April 24, 2023, unless sooner revoked or cancelled,” the law read. The franchise shall be deemed revoked in the event the telco firm fails to operate continuously for two years.

Under the new law, the telecommunication company is mandated to secure permits and licenses from the National Telecommunications Commission for the construction and operation of their facilities. Its charges and rates for telecommunication services shall be subject to NTC approval. The commission can revoke or suspend the permits and licenses in case of any violation of provision of the franchise.

The franchise law also directs DITO to provide mobile number portability and interconnect with the facilities of other telco companies. The mobile number portability allows a person to retain number when they switch networks.

The franchise holder must also offer to Filipinos at least 30 percent of its capital stocks within five years. Failure to comply will render the franchise revoked.

Under the law, the telco company has a number of responsibilities to the public, including conforming to the ethics of honest enterprise and not using its facilities for obscene or indecent transmission, dissemination of false information, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.

The grantee must operate and keep its stations and equipment in satisfactory manner at all times. As far as economical and practicable, it should modify and improve its facilities to keep with technological advances.

It must also improve and extend its services in areas not yet served, and in hazard- and typhoon-prone areas to be determined by the government’s disaster response agency.

The law also includes a provision about the President’s “special right” to temporarily take over and operate the broadcast stations in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance to peace and order.

The company is also required to submit an annual report on franchise compliance to Congress. It will be slapped with P1 million per working day of noncompliance.

The law, signed by the President on May 18, takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper.