22 Feb 2006
Danilo Suarez, a lawmaker in the Philippines’ House of Representatives, has filed a petition calling for the telecoms regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), to nullify the recent awards of 3G licences to local operators. In his submission, Suarez, a representative of the third district of Quezon City, urged the watchdog to invalidate the licences issued to Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digitel and Connectivity Unlimited Resources (Cure) on the grounds that their award is in direct violation of the country’s law on telecoms. Article 5, Section 15 of Republic Act 7925 requires ‘public bidding where demand for specific radio frequencies exceeds availability.’ However, the NTC awarded the UMTS concessions without conducting an open tender or auction. The Congressman points out that the regulator issued a new set of guidelines on 3G licence awards in August 2005 and now says ‘it is of national interest to nullify the contract on the 3G services awarded’, since it is not in the public interest to merely help the government earn huge revenues from such public tenders. The NTC is remaining fairly tight-lipped on the development, although a spokesman for the agency said it had not broken the law. A public hearing will take place on 1 March to discuss the resolution.