Group may question CA order vs text refund

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Sunday, August 24, 2014


PARTY-LIST group Bayan Muna may ask the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the Court of Appeals (CA) order that temporarily stopped a telecommunications company from paying its customers for alleged excessive text messaging service.

"Aside from protest actions we will also bring the case to the Supreme Court if need be,” said Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares on Sunday.

The temporary restraining order (TRO) granted to Digitel Philippines, Inc., which carries the Sun Cellular brand, is good for 60 days.

The CA also ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to comment on Digitel's request for a preliminary injunction, whose effect would stall the implementation of the refund until the decision on the merits of the case is reached.

“The TRO further prolonged the already long wait of subscribers for the refund. We know that the telcos would do all they can to stop the refund but we will also exhaust all means necessary so that the refund would be given to subscribers at the soonest time possible,” Colmenares said.

The telcos have resisted the NTC order to lower the text charge from P1 to 80 centavos, which stemmed from the reduction of the interconnection charge for text messaging from 35 centavos to 15 centavos under Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 02-10-2011.

Among others, the CA noted that the NTC, through MC No. 02-05-2008, has classified text as a value-added service and exempted it from rate or tariff regulations, clearing the way for Digitel to set its own retail price for SMS (short message service).

The CA also said it might be impossible for Digitel to recover expenses for the refund in the event that the NTC decision is junked.

"To prevent any irremediable injury that petitioner (Digitel) may sustain in view of the enforcement of the impugned decision, it is prudent to preserve the status quo, pending determination of the propriety of the issuance of the said judgment," the resolution read.

Digitel is a sister company of the country's biggest wireless service provider Smart Communications, which also questioned the P7-billion refund before the CA along with rival Globe Telecom. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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