Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Tuesday welcomed Malacañang’s announcement that the President has directed the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) to fast-track the entry of a third telecommunications company in the country.
“A third telecommunications firm is exactly what our country needs to end a telco duopoly mired in mediocrity; a situation that has allowed them to hold the Filipino consumer hostage to poor communications and data services,” said the Senate Chief.
“By acting decisively to address this problem, the President is showing the kind of political will necessary to address the long-standing problems of our country. Our people need fast, stable internet speeds that are reasonably priced. Bringing in a new competitor helps achieve that.”
At a press briefing on Monday, Malacañang Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that during bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, President Rodrigo Duterte “offered to the People’s Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecommunications carrier in the country.”
The Presidential Spokesperson said that all applications will be filed and acted upon directly by the OES, per the President’s instructions. Roque added that the government will take 45 days to determine which offer will be taken.
As foreign-owned companies, the telco proposals will have to be consistent with the constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership of companies in the Philippines to 40%.
Pimentel, who had previously put forward proposals to encourage competition between the country’s two major telecommunications firms, said that adding a third player to the Philippine telecommunications market “is the only way to force the two major local telco companies to improve their services.”
“The absence of alternatives has numbed us to the reality of poor network coverage, dropped calls, disappearing loads, lost text messages, and slow data or internet speeds. This should be unacceptable; our countrymen deserve better,” stressed the senator, who earlier this year the Senate Chief urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to direct the country’s telcos to adopt Mobile Number Portability (MNP) to spur competition among the Philippines’ telecoms giants.
MNP is a feature that allows mobile phone subscribers to retain their mobile phone numbers even if they switch to a different carrier. Under the current system, the first four numbers of a mobile phone number are assigned to specific carriers, thus forcing mobile phone subscribers to change numbers when switching to a different telco.