NTC supports proposed measure on non-expiration of franchise pending renewal

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020   •   1014

MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has expressed support on a proposed measure seeking the non-expiration of franchises with renewal applications pending in Congress.

Senate Bill Number 1530 filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon aims to include franchise in Book 7 Chapter 3 Section 18 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines which states that an existing license of a licensee who has made a timely and sufficient renewal application shall not expire until the application has been finally determined.

During the Committee hearing on Thursday (May 27), the NTC said the measure will fill in the gap in the law, noting that it is following Republic Act 3846 or the ‘Radio Control Law’ which provides that no person or firm can operate a radio station without having first obtained a congressional franchise.

“Malaking bagay po ito para po ma-fix ang gap sa batas para po kapag may pending matters ay ito po ay mai-consider na buhay pa [This will help fill the gap in the law to consider a franchise as valid while matters are pending],” explained NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

However, the Commission said that it never issued provisional franchises to stations with expired franchises but with pending renewal applications in Congress and just allowed them to continue operating.

Cordoba said what makes the case of ABS-CBN different from others that they had to issue a cease and desist order, was the quo warranto petition filed against the media giant.

He added that they have issued such orders before but only to radio stations who illegally operated during the 2019 elections.

“The difference from those instances on the ABS-CBN issue is that (with) ABS-CBN, a case for quo warranto was actually filed by the solicitor general. Kaya po medyo naging [That’s why it became] untenable on our part to let it continue because of the clear letter of the law in the Republic Act 3846,” Cordoba said.

However, Senator Drilon believes there has been an inconsistency on the part of the NTC in exercising its power in issuing cease and desist orders.

“At the very least, it appears that there is an inconsistency in exercising power (inaudible) in equal protection of the law,” the Senate Minority leader said.

“This is precisely a remedial legislation that we have introduced so that this kind of gap can be addressed,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Sotto files Senate bill seeking to renew ABS-CBN franchise

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021

Senator Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Vicente Sotto III filed a Senate bill on Monday (January 4) that seeks the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Senate Bill no. 1967 has been filed to grant the media company a new license to operate for 25 years. On the bill’s explanatory note, Sotto cited the importance of broadcast media in every Filipino home.

“Television and radio—which are both part of traditional media—have revolutionized mass communication due to the instant nature of these media,” he said.

The ABS-CBN’s franchise expired in March 2020. The House panel also denied its franchise renewal. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

DICT backs NTC’s streamlining of permit process for fiber optic cable deployment

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday expressed support for the initiative of its attached agency, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), to streamline the permitting process for the installation of fiber optic cables.

The DICT said the NTC is requesting concerned government agencies to streamline the permitting processes for fiber optic cables similar to Joint Memorandum Circular No.1 s. 2020, which streamlines the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure.

These concerned agencies were the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

The move seeks to facilitate seamless integration of fiber optic cable and wireless technologies that are both critical components of the country’s broadband network, it added.

“The DICT is currently fast-tracking the implementation of the National Broadband Program – our Department’s initiative in building a government-owned broadband network for better, more affordable and more extensive Internet connectivity in the country,” DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said in a statement.

“We welcome all initiatives that will complement the NBP, including efforts to improve ICT infrastructures in the private sector side,” he added.

The NTC said in its letter to the DICT and the said concerned agencies that the joint memorandum circular signed in July this year has proven to be effective in facilitating the addition of required base towers in the Philippines leading to improvements in wireless coverage and technologies.

The DICT said the NTC also aims to fast-track the deployment of fiber optic networks, the fundamental telecommunication infostructure needed to address the country’s ICT needs along with addressing the wireless component of telecommunications.

NTC said it is presently coordinating with the DPWH for possible amendments in Department Order No. 73 s. 2014 which provides for guidelines for right-of-way concerns in the deployment of fiber optic networks along national roads and bridges.

DICT, NTC urge DPWH to amend right-of-way rules to speed up ICT infra rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to look into the feasibility of amending the policy on the right-of-way to expedite the rollout of ICT infrastructure.

In a statement, the DICT said the agency and the NTC recently wrote to the DPWH urging it to consider Department Order 73 which provides for the right-of-way rules and regulations.

The DICT said the DPWH department order currently prohibits “posts and towers of Electric Cooperatives and Major Electric Power Distribution; distribution lines; posts for cable of phones and mobile service providers” along all national roads.”

The department said this prohibition results in difficulties for public telecommunication entities as they proceed with the implementation of their roll-out plans for critical backbone and last mile connectivity. 

In its letter to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar dated Sept. 21, the DICT and NTC recalled their joint commitment under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed during the First Philippine Telecoms Summit on May 08, 2017.

The MOA stated that the agencies agreed to amend or revise D.O. 73, s. 2014 to institute more conducive right-of-way regulations to accelerate the deployment of ICT infrastructure. 

After the MOA signing, the DPWH held various technical working group (TWG) meetings with representatives from the DICT, NTC, telcos, cable operators as well as other stakeholders. 

Proposed amendments to D.O. 73 are also highlighted as one of the priorities of the recently established Telecommunications Monitoring Group (TMG).

The TMG is an inter-agency body comprised of members from the DICT, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said, “the indispensable use not just of telecommunications, but also of the Internet and other information services in the new normal, highlights the urgent need for equitable access to affordable, quality and reliable ICT connectivity.”

The DICT chief believes that ICT connectivity will only be possible through the accelerated rollout of ICT networks and infrastructure.

“So our priority is to develop enabling policies that address the private sectors’ complaints against red tape that serve as a cause of delay in the rollout of infrastructure for both telecommunications as well as information services,” he added.

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