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‘Di sila close! Malacanang insists Duterte has nothing to do with Dennis Uy winning 3rd telco bid

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Malacanang is adamant that President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing to do with Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy bagging the third telco slot for being the only bidder qualified by regulators.

“I think it’s a baseless assumption because given the character of this President,” said Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo.

Panelo was reacting to rumblings that the Department of Information and Communication Technology and National Telecommunications Commission practically gifted the third telco slot to Uy and his foreign partner, China Telecom, after rival bidders were disqualified or forced to abandon their bids due to opaque and complicated bidding requirements. China Telecom was also top of mind of Duterte when he announced his plan to smash the Smart-Globe duopoly.

“It’s far-fetched. As we all know, relationship, alliances, friendship do not matter with this President. What matter to him is you follow the law and I’ll be with you, you don’t follow it and I’ll be against you,” said Panelo in briefing.

Panelo said he was skeptical on claims that Uy was a Duterte crony for having built his empire dramatically in just the fist two years of this administration.

“I do not know about the ‘malapit’ or ‘closeness,’ I know both of them are from Davao, but I do not know whether they’re close friends or not,” Panelo said.

Uy himself admitted his close ties to Duterte way back when the latter was still Davao City mayor. Uy revealed that it was Duterte who helped him ward off smuggling charges filed against Uy’s Phoenix Petroleum during the past administration. Duterte also attended the 10th anniversary listing of Phoenix at the Philippine Stock Exchange last year. On record, Uy also chipped in P30 million to Duterte’s campaign in 2016.

But for Panelo, this was no proof of their closeness. “Well, it doesn’t make you close to the President if you support the President. Number two, the President’s policy is not to interfere with his departments as well as the committees created by those departments. So the President has nothing to do with any of those bidding, any of those negotiations or contracts. That’s the policy of the President and it holds until the end of his term,” said Panelo.

Panelo insisted that Uy won the bidding fair and square as he passed all legal requirements imposed by the DICT and NTC.

“From what I gathered, the other bidders lacked certain requirements that is why that particular corporation won over them. But there is a provision that says, those bidders who are not satisfied can appeal to the committee,” he said.