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Poe threatens court case over ‘common tower policy’ for telcos

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Senator Grace Poe on Thursday vowed to go to the courts if presidential economic and information and communication technology adviser Ramon Jacinto would insist on pushing through with the controversial two-player common tower policy.

“Talagang tututulan ko ‘yan at saka hindi ko lang basta-bastang tututulan dahil kung saka-sakaling hindi nila tayo pinakinggan, kasi alam niyo naman ganyan ‘pag humaharap sa Senado ang gaganda ng sinasabi pero hindi naman nila tinutuloy, kaya mag-fa-file tayo ng kaso kasi kailangan talagang pigilan ang mga ganitong uri ng mga polisiya na sa tingin ko ay makakasama sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.

Poe made the remark in a radio interview Thursday when asked what she intends to do if the plan is pursued.

The chair of the Senate public services committee said the policy is counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

Under the draft memorandum circular crafted by Jacinto, a maximum of two independent tower companies may be registered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the first four years of the implementation of the policy.

After this, the NTC may register as many new tower companies as necessary, particularly in rural areas.

The Philippine Competition Commission, the Office of the Solicitor General and industry stakeholders have criticized the draft policy for its anticompetitive nature.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio also said the common tower policy being proposed “would surely be challenged by the telcos in court,” as it “potentially violates the telcos’ legislative franchise which gives them the right to build their own telecommunication infrastructure including towers.”

Poe said the government should be moving towards improving the infrastructure to improve the internet and cellular phone signals in the country.

“Kung napapansin ninyo, masama ang signal ng telepono natin, mabagal ang internet natin, maraming problema sa ating cellphone. Alam mo, malaking dahilan din diyan ay kulang tayo ng mga cellular towers, parang antenna lang ‘yan ng bahay, pero ito dapat sa iba’t ibang parte ng ating bansa,” she said.

The country still lacks 45,000 cellular towers, she said.

“So para magkaroon tayo ng mga cell towers dapat nagpapagawa na ngayon ‘di ba? Ang problema, unang una, bago magkaroon ng permit para magkaroon ng cell towers, napakatagal, muli problema din ng local government ‘yan,” she said.

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