Joker Arroyo sees collusion between NTC, telcos
The former chair of the Senate committee on public services on Thursday said he suspects collusion between the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and telecommunications companies to the detriment of millions of mobile phone subscribers.
Sen. Joker Arroyo said this became evident after the NTC, which is tasked to regulate the telecommunications industry, kept silent about an 8-year-old court order temporarily restraining the government agency from enforcing the law covering telco operations.
"I have a feeling that the telcos and the NTC are in collusion because how in world can you allow a temporary restraining order for 8 years," said Arroyo. The senator made the statement a day after a Senate hearing on subscriber complaints on alleged predatory and inefficient practices of telcos.
"Ang NTC nag-impose ng regulation. Nagreklamo ang telco. hindi nagkasundo, the telcos go to court then NTC will fight kuno, pero it will not work really hard (to have the TRO lifted),” said Arroyo.
Arroyo noted that Wednesday was the first time that the matter of the TRO was made public. He also cited the NTC's failure to put up a fight against the supposedly temporary order.
"So it appears they are only too happy they were enjoined," Arroyo said of the NTC.
Arroyo, who was also public services committee chair when he was congressman, said among the provisions of the law that the NTC failed to impose on the telcos are the cap on call rates and call metering based on the number of seconds "not minutes" consumed.
Asked how the NTC and the telcos could be held accountable if the alleged collusion is established, Arroyo said: "Collusion in the Philippines, there's never a penalty.”
He was also lukewarm to suggestions that Congress revoke telco franchises. He said it would adversely affect millions of subscribers.
Instead, Arroyo urged the investigating Senate committees to affirm initial findings on telcos' exorbitant rates to pave the way for enforcement of the law governing telco operations.