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Senator Gatchalian recommends additional authority for NTC to better regulate telcos

Adrian M. Reodique | Feb. 3, 2017
The senator promised to plug the loopholes in the NTC charter to better carry out its mandate.

Credit: Adrian M. Reodique

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs in the Philippines, asserts the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) needs additional authority to better regulate telcos in the country. The recommendation will be included in his committee report.

Besides that, Gatchalian also plans to submit to the plenary in relation to the committee discussions on the Senate Resolution No. 213. The resolution calls on the Senate to look into the economic impacts of the present model of operation and regulation of the telco industry to the consumers and the national economy.

"The objective here is to see if we have enough regulatory mechanisms to make the playing field even. Telecommunications is a public utility, and just like other public utilities, it has to be regulated to make sure that the playing field is even, to make sure that customers are getting the value that they are paying for," said Gatchalian in a press release.

The senator noted from the committee hearing last week that the NTC had difficulties imposing drastic penalties against telcos which fail to deliver satisfactory to their customers.

For instance, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said that they have failed to compel industry giants, Globe and Smart, to deliver the minimum internet speed of 12 Mbps as stated their advertisements. Since NTC and the two telcos had different views on whether or not data connection speed limits can be imposed, they opted to be silent "because of the limitations in the law," Cabarios added.

Aside from that, Gatchalian highlighted that the PHP 200 fine per day for non-compliance to NTC regulations is not an effective deterrent to the telcos. 

The senator promised to plug the loopholes in the NTC charter to better carry out its mandate.  "The NTC needs more teeth to better regulate the telecoms industry. I will make sure that it gets the same powers like the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission)," he said.

ERC is the regulating body for the energy sector in the Philippines. It has extensive powers, including quasi-judicial powers, to control and penalise non-compliant power companies.


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