Monday , June 25, 2018

SC urged to affirm NTC order to refund P7-B text overcharge

A PETITION has been filed before the Supreme Court asking it to reaffirm a ruling of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordering the return of billions of pesos in excess text messages fees being charged by telecommunication providers since 2012.

Bayan Muna party-list representatives Carlos Zarate and his predecessor Neri Colmenares in their petition asked the SC to order the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) decision dated June 27, 2016 that junked two orders of the NTC dated November 20, 2012 and May 2014.

The NTC decision ordered telecommunication companies Globe Telecom, Smart Communications Inc. and Sun Cellular to refund P7-billion excess charges from consumers from 2012 to 2014.

The same NTC order also reduced the interconnection charges for text messages from 35 to 15 centavos. Refusal to comply with the order is equivalent to a P200 daily fine as stated in the order.

The CA in the questioned decision said that the NTC's order has no legal basis and violated the due process clause of the Constitution.

The appellate court also said the reduction of the interconnection charges will not translate to a reduction in text messaging rates.

Petitioners in their petition told the SC that the P200 fine for not complying with the order is not enough as the telcos robbed from consumers a huge amount of money.

"From the telcos' refusal to return the amounts unduly collected from their subscribers, which consisted a huge chunk of the estimated amount of P7.28 billion as of end of May 2014 and its portion of the estimated daily profit of Php8 Million for this overcollection," the petitioners said.

"The penalty of P200 a day is ridiculously too little, too small in comparison to the magnitude of the illegal act of collection that the telcos are doing and the huge amounts of money that they are illegally raking in from their subscribers," they added. (SunStar Philippines)