NTC helpless over telcos?

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Friday, May 16, 2014


BAYAN Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate have urged the House committee on information and communications technology, in aid of legislation, to probe the “long delayed” text refund by cell phone companies amounting to a whooping P7 billion.

The amount should catch the interest of our lawmakers, many of whom are listed in the different lists from that of Janet Lim-Napoles and the P10-billion pork barrel whistleblowers.

As the two lawmakers pointed out, this is also “hard earned” cash from cell phone subscribers.

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) directed in 2011 the three leading telecommunications providers, Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, to reduce text rate from P1 to 80 centavos.

The rate reduction by 20 centavos per text message doesn’t amount much. But with some two billion text messages sent every day, the amount to be refunded to subscribers could reach P7 billion.

Isn’t that enough reason for telcos to ignore the NTC?

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Congressmen Colmenares and Zarate said the NTC had little power over the three giant telcos.

The NTC disagreed and, baring its fangs, imposed on the defiant telcos P200 per day until they complied with its directive to reduce text rates to 80 centavos.

The two lawmakers said the measly fine “is weaker than a tap on the wrist of the telco giants.” Why, they can continue to defy the NTC and simply pay the fine until eternity.

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An Inquirer report, culled from the hard disk drive of whistleblower Benhur Luy, said high government officials received a total of P820 million in commissions in schemes to siphon congressional pork barrel funds to Napoles-engineered ghost projects.

That reminds us of looting after super typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas last Nov. 8.

The loot is bigger when looters come in barongs and suits.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 17, 2014.

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