Mislatel must back up 'moon and stars' promise, says Grace Poe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2018 10:11 AM | Updated as of Dec 04 2018 10:28 AM

 

MANILA -- Mislatel, the Chinese-Filipino consortium tasked to build the country's third telco, should back up its promise of "the moon and the stars" to consumers, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

The venture's Filipino partner, Dennis Uy, should also appear before the Senate committee on public services' next hearing in January, said its chairperson, Sen. Grace Poe. Uy skipped the last hearing and sent his spokesperson.

Uy and China Telecom's Mislatel promised speeds of up to 55 mbps, 5 times faster than that of current players Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc, Poe told ANC's Headstart.

"Mislatel seems to have promised the moon and the stars," Poe said.

Poe said there were "security" and "capability" questions on Mislatel, especially since it was chosen after its only two rivals, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp and the Sear consortium were disqualified even before their bids could be examined.

It is "questionable" that PT&T was disqualified based on an "interpretation" of bidding rules in the middle of the process, Poe said. Sear was disqualified for failure to pay a performance bond.

The telecom franchise holder for Mislatel, Digiphil, also did not list on the stock exchange 5 years after securing its franchise, Poe said.

Mislatel can be considered on "probation" during the 90-day period provided by the National Telecommunications Commission for the consortium to meet requirements for its winning bid, she said.

"If there's anything, ang gusto lang naman natin dito mabailis na internet, malinaw na signal sa ating cellphones, mas mababang presyo, sa lalong madaling panahon," she said.

(If there's anything, we want fast internet, strong signal on our cellphones and cheaper fees at the soonest possible time.)

'NOT A PERSONALITY THING'

Poe said Uy would not be "unnecessarily grilled" at the Senate. "We want to know your personality, what your commitments are," she said.

"There's nothing wrong" with Uy's close ties to President Rodrigo Duterte, as long as he doesn't use it to get favor from the government, Poe said.

Some of the apprehensions against Mislatel are "conjectures, suspicions, allegations," Poe said, adding, "I have to be very cautious about my pronouncements."

"Seeing the results, you can't help but wonder. That's why we're giving it the time of day. We are shedding light on this issue," she said.

Poe recalled questions from Sen. Francis Escudero during the last hearing about the ownership structure of Mislatel. Philippine law caps foreign ownership in select businesses at 40 percent.

"Yes, in paper 40-percent is Chinese-owned but in reality you can assign proxy documents and they can actually be calling the shots from wherever," she said.

"We have to be extra careful about how we can protect our privacy, how we can protect our security, and also that we don't fall prey to the sweet promises of a company that's not actually been established in this field." she said.

Inviting Uy to the hearings is "not a personality thing."

Referring the the growth of Uy's Udenna Corp, Poe said: "All of a sudden, you have this infused capital in this company.

"Which is the reality, if you want to invest in a company and you know that the company is favored, not so much being given actual favors, but okay in the eyes of the particular administration, you would feel that this a good gamble to do that. He's getting that," she said.

"I'm not saying the sources are illegal. I'm just saying he's more noticed now. People are giving him more opportunities and cutting him slack because of the perceived connection. I don't even know to what extent they're really close," she said.