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DICT Chief clarifies delay on Mislatel award of the frequencies to “respect for the legislative process”

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Perhaps, the message to the third telco in the country, “Patience is a virtue”  as the country’s third mobile player gets another setback as the resolution of its franchise is being awaited.

The China Telecom partner is facing a delay in the rollout of its network of at least three months or until after the May 13 elections, according to DICT Chief Eliseo Rio Jr.

Given this situation, Mislatel’s plans to launch a mobile service to rival Globe Telecom and Smart Communications to late 2020 would be inevitably derailed.

Secretary Rio explained that the National Telecommunications Commission could not award Mislatel the license to operate a telco service and the radio frequencies since issues on the transfer of its franchise had yet to be formally resolved through a bicameral committee before Congress went into recess last Feb 9.

Under the rules of bidding which is known to all who took part of it, Mislatel was given 90 days to meet a series of post-qualification requirements, including the securing of transfer of its telco franchise, after being confirmed as the third mobile player on Nov. 19 last year. Unfortunately, that deadline has lapsed last Feb. 17, Rio added.

But the DICT Secretary clarified that Mislatel Consortium would not be penalized for the delay. “It’s force majeure, beyond the control of Mislatel. We have to wait,” Rio explained.

The apparent delays happened when the senators scrutinized the alleged violations brought up against its franchise, known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. Inc.

However, on  February 6, the Senate adopted a House resolution that approved the transfer of Mindanao Islamic to the Mislatel Consortium, which is led by businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and China Telecom.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Senate Committee for public services said, that there was no need for a bicameral committee since the Senate had concurred with the House resolution.

The reelectionist Senator also said, “It is not an initiative of the Senate or Congress, but an executive/administrative project. In this case, the DICT and NTC (National Telecommunications Commission). This is not the time to dilly-dally, they assessed it, they should pursue it and they should deliver. DICT should just perform its task.”

Poe also explained that the resolution, seeking to transfer the ownership of Mindanao Islamic to the Mislatel consortium, was a concurrent one and that the Senate, has concurred already.

But Rio clarified also that the DICT was deferring the award of the frequencies “out of respect for the legislative process.”

“We understand that it is best to await the official act of the Lower House on the Senate resolution. And until this is done, in order not to preempt Congress and in due regard to the separation of powers of the legislative and the executive, the DICT cannot take further action on the matter,” the DICT official added.

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