Petition to nullify confirmation of Mislatel as third telco filed at SC
A petition was filed at the Supreme Court to nullify the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) decision of awarding the third telco slot to Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. (Mislatel), saying it was unconstitutional, exclusionary and dangerous to national security.
Aside from nullifying the declaration of Mislatel as third telco, the petitioner Marlon Anthony Tonson also pressed the SC to invalidate the Memorandum Circular No. 09-09-18 or the rules and regulations used in the selection process.
Tonson, a data privacy lawyer, filed his petition through counsel Valeña Law Office, seeking to be an intervenor in the SC case filed in November by disqualified bidder Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) against the NTC.
Mislatel consortium is composed of Udenna Corp. of businessman Dennis Uy, Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and China Telecom Corp. Ltd.
In the 44-page document dated December 17, 2018, Tonson said that the selection process for the new major player in the telecommunications industry was "exclusionary" and "anti-competitive."
He said that the fees involved in the selection process served as barriers that hindered genuine competition.
"Because of the selection process’ exclusionary features, the NTC was left to confirm
as the third telecommunications player an entity which is highly suspect in
violating the nationality restrictions. Surely, this is not the best that the
agency could come up with," the petition said.
It said that the NTC "should have structured the third telecommunications selection rules in a more participative and more deliberative manner."
"It is only such design that could facilitate the selection of the best and most qualified operator. Unfortunately, the M.C. 09-09-18 was structured in an anti-competitive manner, foreclosing for some contenders the opportunity to be the country’s third telecommunications provider," the petition added.
It said M.C. 09-09-18 "offends the Constitutional and statutory provisions on free market competition."
"And because of its anti-competitive nature, the rule has enabled the selection of a player that is highly suspect in terms of nationality restrictions in public utilities; moreover, the imminent operation of the selected player raises issues of national and individual security, in turn translating to potential encroachments to Philippine sovereignty and violations of fundamental liberties," it added.
Tonson said the award to Mislatel also raised concerns on "national and individual security."
"Being a user of telecommunications services, particularly data and online platforms, and considering that advances in technology have provided avenues for surveillance, hacking, and data mining, among other security violations, Petitioner-In-Intervention has a right to be protected against such intrusions," he said.
Moreover, Tonson pointed out that 40 percent of Mislatel Consortium is owned by Chinese state-owned China Telecom Corporation Limited (CTCL), which puts the Philippine's sovereignty at stake as China will be given a strategic position to "intrude into fundamental liberties".
"With the ongoing controversy between China and the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea, it would be very imprudent to allow a Chinese government-owned telecommunications, with international notoriety, to tap directly into the Philippines’ information network," the petition read.
The petition also impleaded the Philippine Competition Commission, Oversight Committee, and the China Telecom Corporation Limited.
On November 19, Mislatel was declared by NTC as the new major player in the country's telecom industry which was dominated by the duopoly of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications for the longest time. —LDF, GMA News