MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to send tax auditors to telecommunications firms demanding payment for returning radio frequencies to government.
"Wag niyo ako takutin ng kaso. Mamaya dumating ang BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and start to audit you," Duterte said during a briefing of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that Duterte rejected proposals that the government buy back some of the radio frequencies that the current telcos now hold so that these could be assigned to the third telco.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) however, said that under the law, the government could not just pull out these frequencies from incumbent telcos.
DICT Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio said that the frequencies can only be pulled out only if these frequencies are not being used, or if the telco holding them is not paying the spectrum usage fee.
Rio said that in the case of PLDT, which asked P3 billion to return its unused 3G frequencies, the National Telecommunications Commission prevented the firm from using the frequencies, but PLDT kept paying its spectrum usage fee.
The third telco is expected to commit to spend around P500 billion over 5 years, while providing affordable subscription rates, fast internet speed and a plan to cover as much of the country as possible. -- with reports from Vivienne Gulla and Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News