UNFAIR DEAL

THERE’S a saying that haste makes waste. 

But in the case of PLDT and Globe, the country’s two biggest telecommunications companies, it appears that they see it the other way around. 

For them, haste makes fast bucks. This after the duopoly reportedly closed in record time a multibillion peso deal involving the P70-B telco assets of erstwhile competitor San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

The deal was sealed despite pending cases in court brought about by Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the government’s antitrust watchdog.

It was gathered that the telcos paid SMC about P13 billion last Tuesday, the last tranche of the deal launched over a year ago amid protests from the PCC. 

The deal between the telcos came even as the PCC sought a relief from the highest court last April after a review of the deal was blocked by the Court of Appeals.

Noting its impact on public interest, PCC insisted it had a right to review the deal “to safeguard consumer welfare over the long term.”

The dispute stemmed from the telecommunication companies’ insistence that the deal should be “deemed approved” upon submission of documents of the sale -- as provided by two transitory memorandum circulars the PCC issued in February last year shortly after it was established.

The PCC however maintained that “the acquisition cannot be claimed to be ‘deemed approved’” since the telcos’ notice was “deficient and defective.”

Completing the payment for the telco assets is a move that unduly preempts the forthcoming rulings of the [Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals],” PCC said in a statement reminding them that cases are still being tried in court thus they are not yet exempted from competition law.

“Since the subject acquisition was consummated by the parties in the absence of a valid notification, therefore, pursuant to Section 17 of the PCA (Philippine Competition Act), the subject acquisition is void, and the parties are liable for an administrative fine of 1% to 5% of the value of the transaction,” the PCC also pointed out.

It was gathered that Globe and PLDT have already activated cell sites using the 700-MHz spectrum acquired from SMC, and have formally taken over the management of Liberty Telecom Holdings, Inc. 

This paper believes that the reported completed deal between Globe and PLDT was unfair and would work against the interests of the public.

The move made by the duopoly certainly undermined the desire of the Duterte government to open up the telco industry to competition as part of its initiatives to improve services in the country.

Indeed, something must be done here to correct the situation and tilt the balance in favor of the consumers.

 

 

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