Poe signals court challenge to two tower-company limit

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Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares

SENATOR Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares on Thursday said she will go to the courts if the common tower policy proposed by Presidential Adviser for Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications Ramon P. Jacinto goes ahead.

“I will really oppose that and I will not just oppose that because in case they will not listen to us — Because you know, when they face the Senate, all the good points are being mentioned but are not being implemented, so we will file a case because we really need to stop this type of policy, which I think will harm the public,” she said in a radio interview, the transcript of which was released in a statement.

A draft memorandum circular (MC) on the common tower policy put together by Mr. Jacinto only allows two independent providers to build towers for the first four years of the implementation of the policy.

Potential tower companies have noted that such restrictions may reduce the number of towers that can be built while the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has said the draft policy may anti-competitive.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. also said last week in a Facebook post that Mr. Jacinto’s draft policy may be challenged in court due to possible violations of the franchises of Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT, Inc., which authorize them to build their own towers.

Mr. Jacinto earlier pointed out that the implementation of the policy will be handled by the incoming DICT Secretary, Senator Gregorio B. Honasan, not Mr. Rio.

Ms. Llamanzares, chair of the Senate committee on public services, reiterated that the policy go against the government’s aim of improving the telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

She added that the government should work towards improving the infrastructure that will help upgrade Internet and cellular service.

“If (Mr. Jacinto’s proposed policy) happens, it will slow the pace of the construction of cell towers. Isn’t it true that the President wants more competition, especially in the cellular services so there will be lower prices and it will be more efficient? What the Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs is doing is the opposite,” Ms. Llamanzares said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo