Senate Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairperson Koko Pimentel III on Thursday urged members of the Oversight Committee for the Entry of a New Major Player in the Public Telecommunications Market to “hammer out their differences” and finalize the terms of reference (TOR) for the entry of a third telco provider before the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
The senator acknowledged the efforts of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which had recently posted the latest draft TOR on their website earlier this week, but pointed out that the newly-released draft had yet to be reconciled with the positions taken by the Department of Finance (DOF).
“This TOR released by the DICT may be the latest draft, but it is just a draft. As we speak, the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) is also working on another draft that will reflect the positions of the DOF. After this, there will be consultations, and then another round of discussions within the Oversight Committee before the TOR is finally ready,” said Pimentel.
“How much longer will the Oversight Committee need to finish this crucial document? Can the DICT give us a definite timeline or must we be content with new excuses every time they move the deadline?”
In May, the DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. stated that the final TOR would be released by the end of June, with the naming of the third telco by the “end of August” at the earliest. Rio later revised the timeline, saying that it was unlikely that the TOR would be finalized before the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) and that the new telco player could be named before the end of the year.
Pimentel, who had ealier scored the failure of the Oversight Committee to finalize the TOR over two months after it was formed, said that it may be time “to lock the members of the Committee inside a room until they finalize the TOR” so the TOR can be finalized and released before the President’s third SONA.
It may be time to lock the members of the Committee inside a room until they finalize the TOR.
“Such extreme measures may be necessary because the public needs results, not excuses. In this case maybe it is time for the Office of the Executive Secretary to step in to break the impasse between the DICT and the DOF,” Pimentel said.
Such extreme measures may be necessary because the public needs results, not excuses.
The Oversight Committee is composed of representatives from the DICT as chairperson and the Department of Finance (DOF) as vice chairperson, and representatives from the offices of the Executive Secretary and the National Security Adviser as members.
Pimentel lamented that the delay in the finalization of the TOR was another example of government lagging, unable to keep pace with the private sector.
“There are groups that have already indicated their desire to enter our telco industry. They are ready and willing to invest; unfortunately, the handling of this TOR makes it look like government is neither ready nor willing to introduce a much-needed third telco player. The agencies involved must work harder to dispel this notion.”