Lawmakers urge NTC to decide on telco refund

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014


MILITANT lawmakers on Wednesday filed a motion for intervention at the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), even as they urged the agency to finally decide on the implementation of its refund order against giant telecommunications companies.

Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate both said that despite pending appeals by Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular before the Court of Appeals (CA), the NTC should start imposing the long awaited refund to the subscribers.

"It is in the interest of the intervenors to see the Decision of this Honorable Commission dated 20 November 2012 implemented and enforced. Otherwise, their welfare and interested will continue to be jeopardize by the refusal of the respondents to comply with the Honorable Commission's memorandum circular 02-10-2011," the lawmakers said.

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Colmenares, a House senior deputy minority leader, noted that giant telcos have refused to implement the NTC decision to lower the short messaging system's (SMS) rates by P0.20 per local text message since 2011.

The NTC previously ordered the Ayala-led Globe Telecom and Manuel Pangilinan-led Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and its marketing units, Smart Communications and Digital Mobile Phil. (Sun Cellular) to slash their short message service (SMS) rate to "other networks" to 80 centavos from P1.

The 20-centavos reduction was based from the NTC's Memorandum Circular 02-10-2011.

But NTC legal department chief Dennis Babaran said the agency cannot immediately implement the refund order against the telcos as they can be cited for contempt since the case has already been elevated to the CA.

Last month, Colmenares also urged the commission to order telcos to include interest payments in their at least P438 million refund to the subscribers.

"Aside from the P7.3 billion refund, the telcos should also be ordered to pay legal interest of at least P438 million to the subscribers," Colmenares said.

He added that the NTC should also increase its P200 per day fine to P20,000/day as this is "peanuts for the telcos."

“The fine must be in an amount that would teach these telcos a lesson not to unjustly overcharge subscribers to increase their already super-profits... the fine must be included in the refund subscribers instead of going to the NTC since it is the public who suffered injury and not the government," Colmenares said.

The lawmaker also stressed that since telcos have made extra profit of at least P8 million per day in the last two years, the P200/day fine is a mere slap in the wrist for them. (Sunnex)

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