SEN. Grace Poe vowed to go to court if Presidential Adviser on Information and Communications Technology Ramon Jacinto would not listen to the Senate and insist on pushing ahead with the towercos duopoly.
“Talagang tututulan ko ‘yan at saka hindi ko lang basta-bastang tututulan dahil kung saka-sakaling hindi nila tayo pinakinggan, kasi alam ninyo naman ganyan ‘pag humaharap sa Senado ang gaganda ng sinasabi pero hindi naman nila tinutuloy, kaya mag-pa-file tayo ng kaso kasi kailangan talagang pigilan ang mga ganitong uri ng mga polisiya na sa tingin ko ay makasasama sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.
Poe made the remark in a radio interview Thursday when asked what she intends to do if the plan is pursued.
Poe reiterated her opposition to the common tower policy, saying it is counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving telecommunications infrastructure in the country.
Under the draft memorandum circular crafted by Jacinto, a maximum of two independent tower companies may be registered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the first four years of the implementation of the policy.
After this, the NTC may register as many new tower companies as necessary, particularly in rural areas.
The Philippine Competition Commission, the Office of the Solicitor General and industry stakeholders have flagged the public about the draft policy for its anticompetitive nature.
PCC Commissioner Johannes Bernabe said the PCC does not agree to the duopoly proposal of Jacinto because that would be “too limiting” since the construction of telco towers has been granted franchise by Congress.
Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio also said the common tower policy being proposed “would surely be challenged by the telcos in court.”
He admitted the government cannot keep the telcos from building their own towers.
“Yes, it is in their franchise and they cannot be prevented to put up their own infra including towers. We can’t come out with a Department policy or order that we cannot implement because we can be sued in court,” said Rio.
Poe said the government should be moving towards improving the infrastructure to improve the internet and cellular phone signals in the country.
“Kung napapansin ninyo, masama ang signal ng telepono natin, mabagal ang internet natin, maraming problema sa ating cellphone. Alam mo, malaking dahilan din diyan ay kulang tayo ng mga cellular towers, parang antenna lang ‘yan ng bahay, pero ito dapat sa iba’t ibang parte ng ating bansa,” she said.
Poe added the country still lacks 45,000 cellular towers.
“So, para magkaroon tayo ng mga cell tower dapat nagpapagawa na ngayon ‘di ba? Ang problema, unang-una, bago magkaroon ng permit para magkaroon ng cell towers, napakatagal, muli problema din ng local government ‘yan,” said Poe.
“Pangawala, ‘yun nga, dalawa lang ang kompanya na gumagawa rin niyan halos ‘di ba Globe at Smart. Tapos ngayon, si Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs, si Mr. RJ Jacinto, ang sinasabi niya na ‘yung kanilang proposal ay papayagan lamang nila ay dalawang kompanya ang gagawa ng cell towers, ‘yun ang pagkakaintindi natin,” Poe added.
If this would be the case, then the construction of towers would slow down anew.
“Hindi ba ang gusto nga ng Presidente magkaroon ng mas maraming kumpetisyon lalong-lalo na pagdating diyan sa cellular service para mas bababa ang presyo, mas magiging efficient. Itong ginagawa ni Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs ay parang kabaligtaran,” Poe said.