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Opposition senators on 3rd telco: No to NBN-ZTE part two

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Opposition Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, Kiko Pangilinan and Sonny Trillanes on Thursday warned the government about rushing into a deal with the group of businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp. and state-run China Telecom as the country’s provisional third telco.

In a joint statement, the five minority senators called for transparency in the contract negotiations, as they warned against a repeat of anomalous deals with Chinese firms, such as the scuttled $393-million national broadband network contract with China’s ZTE Corp. and the $421-million deal with Northrail.

“We do not want another NBN-ZTE and North Rail anomalous deals in our midst, which if not exposed, would have robbed the people billions of pesos,” they said.

“The government should be transparent about these matters because allowing the joint venture to enter the industry means giving them access to our daily communication activities, a security issue for our country and our people,” the opposition bloc said.

The senators acknowledged that “telecommunications need more industry players for the sake of the tens millions of Filipino consumers who deserve quality Internet and mobile services.”

“We long for a time when Filipinos would have free access to the Internet, when we could use our mobile phones without experiencing drop calls, when text messages would arrive on time, and when our private data would not be used without our knowledge or consent for commercial and intelligence,” they said.

“That’s why we need to do things right,” they said, raising questions about the selection of the Dennis Uy-led joint venture.

“What qualified it in the first place? Why were the other bidders booted out? What is the track record of the winning bidder in the telecommunications business? Was the government opening up the bidding to other players just a formality?” the senators asked.

“Masabi lang that the government went through the process? In December 2017, Malacanang said it wants the government to ensure that China Telecom can begin its Philippine operations by the first quarter of 2018. Ito na ba yun?” they said.