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3 telcos handed new franchises

The President urged the companies to conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and to filter out deliberately false information

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Don’t serve as platforms of obscenity and fake news. Thus, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded three telecommunication companies as he signed into law measures granting them new franchises.

The President inked Republic Acts (RA) 11757 and 11758 allowing Laguna-based Independent Telephone Company Inc. and Sultan Kudarat Telephone System Inc. to continue their operations for another 25 years.

He also approved the franchise bid of Derecho Telecommunications Inc. through RA 11759.

The newly-signed laws required the companies to secure permits and licenses from the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) for the construction, installation, and operation of their systems and facilities.

Such certificates should state the areas covered and the date the firms would commence their services, according to the measures.

The President urged the three telco companies to “conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and not to use their stations or facilities for obscene or indecent transmission, or for dissemination of deliberately false information, or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.”

Revocation, suspension

Should the firms violate any provisions of their franchises, the NTC is authorized to revoke or suspend the permits or licenses that had been granted to the company, he added.

As in all telcos operating in the country, the facilities of the three may be temporarily taken over by the government in times of war and rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order.

The franchises would be deemed revoked if the companies would fail to operate continuously for two years. They would also be subject to amendment or repeal by Congress when the “public interest so required, and shall not be interpreted as an exclusive grant of privilege.”

The laws also mandated the firms to generate employment opportunities and to accept on-the-job trainees in their franchise operations in accordance with the country’s labor standards.

The telco companies were required to submit to Congress annual reports on their compliance with the terms and conditions of their respective franchises, including updates on the rollout, development, and operation of their businesses.

Failure to do so would be penalized by a fine of P1 million for each working day of noncompliance, Duterte said.

The measures were signed on 29 April, but copies were only published on Thursday morning. They would take effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

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