LEADERS of the House of Representatives strongly opposed the proposal of Presidential Adviser on ICT Ramon Jacinto to limit to just two the number of independent and private companies that could be allowed to build cell site towers in the country.
House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chairman Rep. Johnny Pimentel of the 2nd District of Surigao del Sur labeled Jacinto’s proposal as “stupid idea.”
“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 anu-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 Department of Information and Communications Technology (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.
Pimentel added he understands the position of the two local telecommunication companies in resisting the common tower policy being advocated since it would mean added cost to their operations, which in the end, would only be passed on to mobile phone users.
At the same time, Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay of the 1st District of Surigao del Sur 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 as such 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.
The “Makabayan bloc” in Congress had earlier questioned the towercos duopoly proposal.
According to Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, it would only be another mistake on the part of the government should it continue forcing the controversial issue.
Casilao said it is the belief of their group in Congress that government itself should be the one in-charge of constructing and operating telecom tower or mobile and internet cell sites instead of allowing new private companies to handle it.
He doubts if the telecommunication service in the country would improve if the ownership and operation of the cell sites would be given to a new independent private company instead of the telcos themselves as what the DICT had been trying to endorse.
Even the minority bloc in the Lower House is against the idea of denying local telecom companies the responsibility to build and operate their own cell sites.
“I think it’s not fair,” said House Minority Leader and Quezon province Rep. Danilo Suarez.