SENATORS Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes recently issued a joint statement discrediting both the selection process and the provisional new major player (NMP) Mislatel consortium.
The lawmakers, all belonging to the Liberal Party, slammed the alleged lack of transparency in the selection process, asking why the other bidders were booted out.
They also raised the issue about the involvement of Malacañang which, they suspect, assures that China Telecom can begin its Philippine operations by the first quarter of 2019.
Many however, were puzzled by the noise made by the opposition bloc, noting that they “did not do their homework” as the entire proceedings -- from the submission all the way to the selection processes -- were broadcast live by various news channels.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo stressed in a Palace briefing that President Duterte did not intervene in the selection of the third telco.
“There was a transparent, fair, public and open selection process, done in accordance with laws, as well as with pertinent rules and regulations,” he said.
Panelo’s claims were supported by the separate statements of Senators Francis Escudero and Joel Villanueva, commending the efforts of the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission in facilitating the selection process.
Like Escudero, Sen. Sonny Angara believed the entry of the NMP in the telecommunications industry will speed up the implementation of country-wide access to better internet services at affordable cost.
Aside from internet connectivity and mobile services improvement, NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia and Rep. Lito Atienza released parallel statements on the economic benefits the third telco will bring to our country such as investment partnerships and capital spending.
With the Mislatel group involving the China Telecom, Sen. Grace Poe said security concerns over the participation of a foreign firm should not be ignored and that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other intelligence agencies should weigh in on its ramifications.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon quickly responded to the concerns of Poe, and assured the public that the AFP played a role in the selection of the third telecommunications player in the country so there’s nothing to worry about national security.
During his appearance at the regular Kapihan sa Senado media forum, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said, “I believe China Telecom is a publicly-listed firm in mainland China. The books are open, they are transparent.”
The senator said it would be unfair to imply that China Telecom’s presence in Mislatel would be a national security concern.
Pending confirmation of the provisional NMP, the First Point Group, through the Linkedin platform, have already called for job applicants interested to work for the upcoming projects of Mislatel consortium.
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