SolGen asks court to junk plea that could derail third telco selection

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2018 07:46 PM

MANILA - The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked a Manila Court to junk a plea that could derail the selection of the third major telecommunications player. 

The OSG said NOW Telecom's plea for a preliminary injunction against some of the requirements for bidding for the third telco had "utter lack of merit."

NOW Telecom lodged a suit against the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last October 9, saying the agency had turned the selection process into "a moneymaking scheme."

NOW Telecom said requirements such as the P700 million Participation Security, P14 billion to P24 Billion Performance Security, and P10 million non-refundable Appeal Fee, violated existing laws and were barriers to entry. 

During a Senate hearing last October 22, NOW Telecom's lawyer said the firm had asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction against these provisions. 

But in a 32-page memorandum dated October 31, the OSG insisted that the selection requirements followed the law.

The OSG said the NTC had the power to impose qualifications on firms bidding to become the third telco player, and that NOW had not even proven that it was qualified to take part in the selection process. 

The government law office also accused NOW Telecom of "forum shopping" saying the firm failed to exhaust administrative remedies before going to court. 

It added that NOW's plea had become moot as the company said it wants the selection process to proceed as scheduled. 

Meanwhile, another firm aiming to be the third telco said requirements for bidding were being changed even as the selection process was expected to wrap up this week. 

At least 10 firms, including China Telecom, bought bid documents.

The National Telecommunications Commission is scheduled to open the bids on Wednesday, with the "provisional winner" being announced on the same day. - with a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News