A HIGH ranking member of the so-called Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives yesterday warned that the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will be facing criminal raps if it fails to act against the plan of Presidential Adviser on ICT Ramon Jacinto to limit to two the number of independent and private companies that could be allowed to build cell site towers in the country.
“Pag-aaralan ko ‘yung legality ng approval ng duopoly and isa sa requirements diyan ‘yung intervention ng PCC. Kung enough ba ang effort ng PCC to verify, weigh in the qualification of the two entities and negligence on their part ay mayroong corresponding administrative and criminal liability iyan,” said Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel ‘Ka Ayik’ Casilao.
The solon stressed Congress is keeping an eye on the intense lobbying of Jacinto and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for towercos duopoly to prevail, and if he finds something illegal, any preferential treatment, or even “under the table negotiations,” he would not have any second thoughts of exposing it and would file a corresponding case against them.
Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay of the 1st District of Surigao del Sur had earlier said he is certain the towercos duopoly plan won’t be approved in Congress.
“Iyong gusto na dalawa lang (towercos), dadaan din ‘yan sa Kongreso, pero most probably hindi papayagan ‘yan kasi mas mabilis kung everybody can put up (common tower) saka mabigyan pa ang taumbayan ng livelihood o trabaho at mapagkakakitaan,” said Pichay.
Pichay also reminded those government bright boys behind the “duopoly” of private cell site providers that the franchise of the existing telcos granted by Congress includes their right to build and operate line towers, and no memorandum circular from the DICT and NTC can remove that right without violating the Congressional Enactment.
“The more the merrier, the more the better kasi magkakaroon ng competition. Kung gusto nila dalawa lang, ang ibig sabihin magkakaroon ng collusion ‘yan. Hindi naman kailangang dalawa lang, dapat i-open ‘yan,” added the House leader.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe and former House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chairman Rep. Johnny Pimentel of the 2nd District of Surigao del Sur both labeled Jacinto’s proposal a “stupid idea.”
“Dito sa cell towers, mayroon kasing isang nag-suggest sa Presidente yata o sa DICT na dapat ay isang kompanya o dalawang kompanya lang ang puwedeng magpatayo ng cell towers. Kalokohan ‘yon,” stressed Poe during the hearing of Senate Committee on Public Service which she chairs.
“Dapat kung sino’ng puwedeng magtayo ng cell towers, basta nasa regulasyon, ay magtayo para naman walang monopolya nito. Kung maraming cell towers, mas gaganda ang signal natin,” Poe added.
The lady senator also insisted that all telecommunications companies should be allowed to build their own cell towers.
“That will not prosper…for me, kalokohan lang ‘yan kung ganoon. I don’t agree with that plan, for me it is a stupid proposal. Iyon kasi ang mahirap, kung ano-ano ang pumapasok sa isipan natin,” said Pimentel, who was obviously livid when asked for his reaction on the towercos duopoly being suggested by Jacinto and the DICT.
“Kung maglagay ng common tower, eh ‘di another layer na naman ‘yon. Kung sinuman ang nagplano niyan ay malaking kalokohan ‘yan,” stressed the Surigao del Sur lawmaker.
In a separate but same position, Globe and Smart Communications, Inc. strongly opposed towercos duopoly as it will violate their congressional franchise.