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Now Telecom sues NTC for changes in third telco’s terms of reference

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Now Telecom, an affiliate of Now Corp., has sued the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for supposedly inserting “new requirements” into the final terms for the selection of a third telco player.

The case was filed on Monday, October 8, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, the same day Now Telecom bought the bid documents for the new major player in the telecom industry.

The company filed for an injunction seeking to remove certain provisions in the final terms of reference, which was published on September 21 and took effect on October 6, Now legal counsel Aldrich Dy told GMA News Online.

In a separate statement, Now Telecom took note that the final terms of reference included requirements which were not taken up during public hearings, namely:

  • P700-million “Participation Security”
  • P14 to P24-billion “Performance Security”
  • P10-million non-refundable “Appeal Fee” 

These requirements not only violate existing laws, but can be declared as onerous, confiscatory, and potentially extortionary, Now Telecom claimed.

“Now Telecom is suing NTC to protect its public shareholders and President Rodrigo Duterte from any suspicion that he is complicit to the money-making schemes in the TOR for the third telco,” Now president and CEO Mel Velarde said.

The telecom firm prefers that President Duterte receive all the bidding documents on November 7, and said it would be best if the President, not the NTC, would choose the new major player.

“We received a complaint filed by Now Telecom. We will refer the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General ... We observe the protocol of referring questions and concerns regarding cases to the Sol Gen in observance of the sub judice rule and respect for court processes,” NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a text message to reporters.

He declined to further issue any statement, saying the case is now under judicial consideration.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. questioned the timing of Now Telecom’s complaint.

“Bakit ngayon lang sila nag-file na effective na ‘yung memorandum circular? They have 15 days from the release on September 21 until it became effective on October 6 to submit their position paper—if may gusto pala silang baguhin. So bakit inantay pa nila na maging effective?” Rio told GMA News Online.

“Sana nung hindi pa effective doon sila nag reklamo,” he said.

Now is in the business of providing telecommunications, media and information technology products and services. The company is chaired by Thomas Aquino, with Mel Velarde as president and CEO.

During the first half of the 2018, the company posted a net income of P5.82 million, up 158 percent from P2.26 million a year earlier. —VDS, GMA News

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