MANILA, Philippines–A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court to stop the government’s awarding of the third telecommunications slot to the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. (Mislatel).
In a 44-page petition-in-intervention, a certain Marlon Anthony Tonson, through counsel Arnel Victor Valeña, asked the high court to nullify Memorandum Circular 09-09-2018 or the Rules and Regulations on the Selection Process for a New Major Player (NMP), and to nullify the third telco slot awarded to Mislatel consortium for being unconstitutional.
“MC No. 09-09-2018 is unconstitutional as it contravenes the constitutional policy and statutory provisions on free competition,” Tonson said as he invokes his legal interest on the matter being a telco consumer.
He added that the memorandum circular must be stricken down because “it fails to adequately protect the Filipino people from national and individual security risks.”
“Cybersecurity risks are now faster, more efficient and such concerns blend with issues of sovereignty and fundamental liberties,” Tonson said noting that 40 percent of Mislatel, the congressional franchise holder, is held by China Telecom that is a state-owned enterprise.
Tonson expressed his concern following reports last year that China wants to be a “big brother’ with an all-seeing surveillance state.
“The Chinese government will be placed in a strategic position to intrude into fundamental liberties,” he added.
The circular, he also noted, provided an exorbitant P1-million fee for selection documents and P700-million participation security that he said were “substantial deterrent to a more participative selection process.”
His petition in effect echoed the petition filed by disqualified bidder Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T) last November, 2018. PT&T questioned the validity of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) decision to close the bidding process and to officially award the third telco franchise.
Tonson said there should be new terms of reference and conduct of another bidding following public hearings and consultations.
Unlike the petition of PT&T, Tonson has impleaded the NTC, Office of the Executive Secretary, National Security Adviser and China Telecom as respondents in the case.
PT&T, in its petition also sought the nullification of the memorandum circular and accused the selection committee that disqualified it of “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
The SC has already ordered NTC to answer the said petition.
The NTC has already confirmed Mislatel as provisional third telco player in an order issued last Nov. /jpv