Duterte approves franchise for Villar telecom firm

Ruth Abbey Gita
THE fielding by the legitimate opposition led by the Liberal Party (LP) of only eight candidates—four short of the 12 open seats—in the senatorial race is proof of how far the former administration

THE Villar family is entering the telecommunications industry through Streamtech Systems Technologies Incorporated, which has been granted a 25-year congressional franchise.

President Rodrigo Duterte on October 18 signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11089, which provides Streamtech the franchise to "construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain telecommunications systems throughout the Philippines."

The family of businessman Manuel Villar, a former Senate president, is engaged primarily in real estate development.

Through Streamtech, Villar would be challenging the duopoly of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom.

Streamtech needed to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a certificate of public convenience and necessity, as well as other appropriate permits and licenses for the construction, installation, and operation of its telecommunication facilities.

"In issuing the certificate, the NTC shall have the power to impose such conditions relative to the construction, operation, maintenance, or service level of the telecommunications systems. The grantee shall not use any frequency in the radio spectrum without authorization from the NTC," the newly-signed law read.

"Such certificate shall state the areas covered and the date the granteee shall commence the service. The NTC, however, shall not unreasonably withhold or delay the grant of such authority, permit, or license," it added.

The law directs Streamtech to improve and extend services in hazard- and typhoon-prone areas that would be determined by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in coordination with the NTC.

The 25-year franchise would be deemed ipso facto revoked if Streamtech fails to commence operations within one year from the approval of its operating permit by the NTC, begin operations within three years from the effectivity of RA 11089, and operate continuously for two years.

The grantee was also mandated to submit an annual report to Congress, through Senate public services committee and House legislative franchises committee.

Streamtech Systems Technologies would pay a fine of P1 million, if they fail to submit the requisite annual report to Congress.

Meanwhile, the President, through Republic Act 11099, renewed for another 25 years the franchise granted to Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation. (SunStar Philippines)