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Joint legislative resolution OK’s transfer of Mislatel ownership

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bidding NTC third telco
PHOTO BY DENISE A. VALDEZ

THE COUNTRY’s third major telecommunications service provider saw legal obstacles to the start of its operations reduced on Wednesday, as the Senate adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 23, which approves the transfer of controlling interest of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc.’s (Mislatel) to the Mislatel consortium.

Only three senators — Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, as well as Panfilo M. Lacson and Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel — opposed the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri clarified that the House concurrent resolution was adopted, not passed on second reading, as mentioned by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III during the session.

“It’s only a concurrent resolution, no need for second reading. It’s adopted… by the Senate with three negative votes,” he told reporters in a mobile phone message.

The resolution which the House of Representatives adopted on Dec. 12, grants the transfer of controlling interest of Mislatel to Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings, Corp., as well as China Telecommunications Corp. (China Telecom) that form the Mislatel consortium that won the November auction for the new telecommunications service provider.

The consortium is currently working on submissions of its business and rollout plans, as well as authentication of foreign documents as part of post-qualification requirements in the selection process.

The transfer of Mislatel’s controlling interest to the consortium — as part of the franchise the group needs to operate as the country’s third major telecommunications service provider — needed Congress’s approval, as prescribed in the legislative franchise granted to the company under Republic Act No. 8627 enacted in 1998. Under the law, Mislatel is allowed to operate for 25 years. Its franchise is set to expire in 2023.

Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, chairperson of the Senate Public Services committee, however, said that “interested parties” could still challenge the Mislatel group’s franchise in the courts. — Camille A. Aguinaldo