Lawmakers question telcos on sudden disappearance of prepaid load

April Rafales, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 11:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2018 02:55 PM

MANILA—Lawmakers on Wednesday questioned telecommunications companies on the sudden disappearance of prepaid load, stemming from seemingly automatic enrollment of numbers to value-added services.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy raised the concern during the inquiry into prepaid credits by the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology.

Tarlac 2nd District Rep. Victor Yap, chairman of the committee, echoed her sentiment.

“Mas importante matingnan natin bakit nawawalan ng load yung mga tao. Yung one year expiration, tingin ko hindi naman na gaanong concern iyon. Mas issue ng subscribers yung bigla-bigla silang nakakaltasan ng load,” he said. 

Lawmakers also asked why prepaid load users are not given the ability to monitor their load usage.

Smart Communications and Globe Telecom said if subscribers want to lodge a complaint, there are several avenues and hotline numbers that they can call. The companies also assured complaints are being dealt with.

They say if such complaint is valid and validated, they credit the lost load amount back to the subscriber.

The Department of Information and Telecommunications Technology, together with Department of Trade and Industry and National Telecommunications Commission, signed a memorandum circular last December 2017 extending the validity period of all prepaid load to one year, regardless of denomination. 

The memorandum circular should have been made effective on January 5. 

Telco companies, however, requested a grace period of 6 months, citing technical reasons such as ample time to complete the tagging in their system.

The NTC has allowed them to comply by June.

But the House committee and civil rights movement Democracy.Net.PH did not accept the telco companies' reason. 

The group claimed this is the telco companies' way of buying more time to generate more income from the subscribers.

The movement's co-founder Engr. Pierre Galla said the telcos could have easily extended load validity in a matter of 24 hours if they really wanted to.

"Kung gusto nila kaya nila in one day. Hindi na complex o mahirap ang systems software na ginagamit nila. Bakit ang Uber nung sinabihan sila ng LTFRB na dapat mag-include ng certain aspects sa kanilang app, nagawa nila agad?" he said.

The committee decided to invite technical team representatives of telco companies to the next hearing.

Despite the presence of a memorandum circular extending the prepaid load validity to one year, the committee wants to remove the expiration period.

The committee will also tackle in the next hearing the presence of value-added services and how their owners partner with telcos.