MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission to ensure that China Telecom will be “up and about” as the Philippines’ third telecommunications player by the first three months of 2018.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press conference on Tuesday, cited the President’s directive to the DICT Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio, Jr. and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, tasking their two agencies to approve all of China Telecoms’ applications and licenses within seven days upon receipt of the complete requirements. If these are not approved within seven days, they are deemed approved, Roque said.
“That’s how serious the President is on the entry on a third telecoms player,” he added.
He noted that constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership will be observed, having agreed on a scheme where China Telecoms will have 40 percent, and a consortium of Filipino companies will own 60 percent.
As for securing the Philippines’ network despite a foreign party given access to it, Roque said he is sure there will be measures to protect Filipinos’ privacy and national security interests. It is the Duterte administration’s policy to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, so policymakers will have measures to protect its citizens.
Roque also pointed out that it is Western telecommunications providers that have “sacrificed” consumers’ right to privacy in the United States and Europe.
Also, foreigners already have access to the Philippines’ network because minority shareholders of the present providers are foreigners. “There’s always a foreign player in any telecoms provider. They always have partners who are foreign,” Roque said.
He added that DICT OIC Rio assured him that they will be transparent so that the public will know what is happening and will have fewer misgivings about security.
Asked about concerns that the entry of China Telecom is being inordinately rushed, he replied, “It is being rushed. Because we need desperately to have better telecoms in this country.”
He also noted that his phone lines at home are not working, again.