SolGen urges SC to junk PT&T petition vs 3rd telco bidding

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2019 04:00 PM

MANILA - The Office of the Solicitor General has urged the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition filed by the Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T) seeking to reverse its disqualification from the selection for the third telecommunications firm in November last year.

In its comment dated Jan. 21, a copy of which was obtained by the media on Monday, the OSG said the New Media Player Selection Committee (NMP-SC) did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified PT&T from the race because it was PT&T itself who had failed to comply with all the requirements.

PT&T failed to submit a certification of technical capability. The firm said it filed a request with the NTC but that its request was ignored.

The OSG said the NMP-SC has no jurisdiction to entertain any explanation for non-compliance as its mandate was only to "determine completeness and compliance of the First Submission Package."

It also cited the NTC's notice, dated Nov. 5, 2018 or two days before PT&T's disqualification, which stated that PT&T "does not meet the Technical Capability requirement."

The NTC had found that PT&T did not operate nationwide for the past 10 years.

The OSG also defended the NMP-SC's selection of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) as the provisional third telco despite PT&T's claim that Mislatel's franchise had been revoked by the time it submitted the First Submission Package.

It said the NMP-SC merely relied on a letter from the House of Representatives' committee on legislative franchises declaring that "the Committee has not received any notice of a judgment from any judicial or quasi-judicial body revoking or cancelling the franchise granted to Mislatel through RA 8627."

Some senators have questioned Mislatel's franchise as it failed to operate within a year from the grant of its franchise in 1998 and it did not inform Congress about the change in its ownership.

Businessman Nicanor Escalante took over Mislatel in 2015. He admitted in a Senate inquiry in January this year that the firm had not been operating since the grant of its franchise.

But the Senate in February this year approved Mislatel's change of ownership to the consortium led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and state-owned China Telecommunications Corp.

It is waiting for Congress to issue a concurrent resolution on the transfer of ownership of its franchise before it can obtain accreditation from the NTC and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

The OSG filed the comment on behalf of the National Telecommunications Commission, the NMP-SC, the NMP-SC Technical Working Group and their officers, whom PT&T named as respondents in its petition.

Also named as respondents are Mislatel and the companies that form the consortium: Udenna Corporation, Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and China Telecom Corporation Limited.