Rappler quotes the acting chief of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Eliseo Rio Jr, as saying that it has decided to move the deadline for the auction of the Philippines’ third telco position. ‘If we force the end-of-March deadline, there might not be any bidders,’ he is quoted as saying in a text message to reporters, noting that the request to delay actually comes from the groups wishing to participate themselves. The news is a blow to controversial president Rodrigo Duterte who had previously dismissed the DICT’s request to extend the deadline, tasking the agency to select the winner of the auction by March this year. To facilitate this, the DICT had announced its intention to conduct a reverse bidding auction, allowing it to grant provisional authority and award the available 3G and 4G mobile frequencies to the winning concessionaire. Here, the department could base its decision on the highest-ranked criterion: the group proposing the most comprehensive (i.e. highest) five-year financial rollout plan to best utilise the spectrum on offer.
In the wake of the latest delay, however, Rio has said that the DICT now intends to post the initial memorandum circular (MC) for the third telco auction on Monday 19 February, following which a public forum will take place (27 February) and an open hearing on the MC (6 March). The deadline for the submission of position papers will follow on 12 March, he added, with 5 April set as the tentative effective date for the memorandum and 18 May for bid submissions.