MANILA – The Senate has approved on second reading a bill extending the franchise of Dito Telecommunity for another 25 years after establishing safeguards concerning national security.
“Gusto kong maliwanagan ang lahat kung paano ba natin mapoprotektahan ang sarili nating soberanya at interes. Walang perpektong batas pero hangga’t sa abot ng ating makakaya dapat gawin natin ang nararapat para hindi tayo maisahan (I want to enlighten everyone on how we can protect our own sovereignty and interests. There is no perfect law but as far as we can we must do the right thing so that we are not overwhelmed),” Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services and sponsor of House Bill No. 7332, said in a news release on Thursday.
Poe elaborated that the Executive could order the National Telecommunications Commission to shut down operations of a telecommunications company if they are found to compromise national safety and security.
“If tomorrow they breach their franchise agreement and compromise our national security and safety, we have the power and the equal footing or authority to shut them down,” Poe said.
Poe also noted that under the Securities and Exchange Commission rules, they can also be denied access to confidential information if it will result in a conflict of interest.
“In our corporate and franchise laws, we can definitely put them out of operation,” she added.
Dito Telecommunity, formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. (Mislatel), was granted a franchise in 1998, which is set to expire in 2023.
Dito launched its commercial services on March 8 and passed its first audit recently as it met the required 27-Mbps minimum speed and 37-percent population coverage. It will be going through a second audit in July this year and is expected to cover 84 percent of the population in five years.
“We definitely cannot limit giving authority to a company just because of mere suspicions that something untoward can happen. We’re not actually giving Dito any special accommodation. Whatever we’re giving now here is also allotted to other companies,” Poe said. (PNA)