DESPITE the recent alliance forged between Manuel Pangilinan and Dennis Uy in a major oil exploration firm, it would be impossible for the two entrepreneurs to eventually combine their telecommunications entities, a member of Congress said Sunday.
“There’s simply zero chance that anti-trust watchdogs will allow the three players in the telecommunications sector to revert back to two in the future,” said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
“We already have a durable anti-trust law in place that prohibits mergers and acquisitions that diminish market competition,” Pimentel pointed out.
Pimentel was referring to the Competition Law of 2015, or Republic Act 10667, which established the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) that is empowered to block any business combination that would reduce market rivalry.
The law is now fully effective, but did not exist when PLDT Inc. previously acquired rivals Smart Communications Inc. and Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc., and when Globe Telecom Inc. bought Isla Communications Inc. and Bayan Telecommunications Inc., Pimentel explained.
“Back then, we still did not have the Competition Law and the PCC,” Pimentel said.
Last month, Uy’s Dennison Holdings Corp. spent P4 billion to acquire a 14.8-percent stake in Pangilinan’s PXP Energy Corp., which has the biggest share of the Sampaguita natural gas discovery in offshore West Palawan.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) last week confirmed the Uy-led Mislatel consortium as the country’s third major telecommunications player.
Mislatel is poised to compete with PLDT led by Pangilinan and Ayala-owned Globe, which for years have ruled the country’s telecommunications sector.
“Years from now, we Filipinos will be very grateful to President Duterte for enabling a third player to come in, and for establishing effective competition in the telecommunications sector for the benefit of consumers,” Pimentel said.
Mislatel’s entry would drive in a big way the improvement of high-speed Internet services, the Mindanao lawmaker said.
“In the years ahead, we expect a greater number of Filipinos to enjoy affordable high-speed Internet access at home and on their mobile devices everywhere,” Pimentel said.
The Mislatel consortium has vowed to invest up to P257 billion over the next five years, and to deliver a minimum average Internet connection speed of 27 Megabits per second (Mbps) in its first year of operation and 55 Mbps by the fifth year.
It intends to provide service coverage to 84.01 percent of the population by the fifth year.
The consortium is led by Uy’s Udenna Corp. and subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., in partership with China Telecom Corp. Ltd. and Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. Inc. - FROM THE OFFICE OF REP. JOHNNY PIMENTEL, 2ND DISTRICT, SURIGAO DEL SUR