DICT Chief Rio reminds Senator Drilon: Mislatel’s franchise valid

DICT Chief Rio reminds Senator Drilon: Mislatel’s franchise valid
DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio during Senate hearing on third telco Photo From THEPHILBIZNEWS/Ariel G. Raule

DICT Chief Rio reminds Senator Drilon: Mislatel’s franchise valid
By Monsi A. Serrano
Photo From THEPHILBIZNEWS/Ariel G. Raule

Contrary to the statement made by Senator Frank Drilon in the Senate Hearing last week that the Selection Process for the Third Telco conducted by DICT/NTC was flawed because Mislatel, the lone winning bidder has no valid franchise as required by the Terms of Reference (MC-09-09-2018), since its franchise is ipso facto revoked.

But DICT Secretary Elisio Rio said that the statement of the Senator did not have an iota of  truth and pointed out that  the NTC exerted so much effort in doing its due diligence to make sure that all requirements of the MC are complied with”, the DICT Chief said.

The DICT head succinctly the process for better understanding.

“First, NTC, during the pre-qualification period, wrote Congress if the franchise of Mislatel is still valid, and got the answer that on record, their franchise has never been revoked. In other words, since there is no declaration of revocation by competent authorities, NTC has no right to consider the franchise as revoked as the presumption of regularity and the validity of the franchise must be respected. This is no different from marriages which the law says are void ab initio. Parties still need to go to court and ask for a declaration of nullity of marriage, and absent such, no other person or entity, private or public, can claim that said marriage is void ab initio and just throw away the marriage certificate, and ignore all rights granted by law to the married couple. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has already ruled that since a franchise is a property right, there must be due process for it to be revoked, notwithstanding the ipso facto provision. A direct action for a quo warranto is the proper action to take. To date, no quo warranto proceeding has been filed by the State against Mislatel. The truth is there are so many telcos that may have in one way or another “violated” their franchises, but without due process, none of these franchises have been actually revoked,” Rio added.

“If we now consider them revoked without due process as what Senator Drilon would want to do with Mislatel, contratry to the Supreme Court decision that revocation of franchises can only be done through a quo warranto action, then our whole Telecom industry will fold up, bringing us back to the dark ages. Surely, this would be against public interest”.

“All the points brought out by Senator Drilon have been extensively deliberated in the Lower House of Congress. But after voting, Congress approved the transfer of Mislatel’s franchise to the consortium and brought it up for the consideration the Senate. The Senate will still vote on it as a body, before it can be finally resolved whether Mislatel would be the third telco. All these are within the post-qualification requirements of the selection process and still within schedule as the deadline is on February 17, 2019.”

“Finally, I hope Congress consider changing some of the provisions in the franchise it grants telcos. For example, it is almost impossible now to roll-out and become operational within a year as a telco. Much more if there are fortuitous events like natural and man-made calamities that can delay the roll-out. This would make franchises much easier to comply with,” DICT Secretary Rio said in closing.

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