MANILA Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday questioned the validity of the congressional franchise of the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) due to possible violations.
During the Senate public services committee's third hearing on the selection of the new major telco player, Drilon said Mislatel failed to comply with the conditions of its franchise when it did not operate within a year after the grant of franchise and it sold 70 percent of its shares without securing congressional clearance.
Mislatel is the Mindanao-based franchise holder of the Mislatel consortium, which was recently named as the third telecommunications player in the country.
The franchise is deemed revoked if you failed to comply with these conditions, Drilon said.
He noted that Mislatel was granted a legislative franchise in 1998 with a specific provision to commence operations within one year from approval.
Mislatel president Nicanor Escalante said the company was issued a provisional authority to operate in Parang, Maguindanao in 2001, but he cited peace and order issues as reasons for its failure to operate.
The company was ready to roll out in Parang, Maguindanao in 2003 but the peace and order situation in that area did not allow the company to operate, Escalante said.
Drilon described Mislatel as a paper corporation since it is not in operation.
The senator further argued that a valid franchise is a requirement under the guidelines of the National Telecommunications Commission to be eligible for the selection process for the new major player for the telecom industry.
Here you have a situation where there is no existing franchise because of the violations of the grantee of the conditions imposed in the franchise because they did not operate. And there was no congressional approval for the transfer of the controlling interest, Drilon said.
It is very clear that Mislatel's franchise is, at the very least, of doubtful validity, he added.
For his part, Department of Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio said the review of franchise is part of the post-qualification assessment, raising the possibility of cancelling Mislatel's provisional status if it failed this component. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency