NOW Telecom seeks SC intervention on regulatory fee

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — NOW Telecom, an affiliate of listed media and technology holding firm NOW Corp., has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in its tussle with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) over the group's supposed ₱2.6 billion unpaid obligation to the government.

In a 22-page comment filed at the Supreme Court dated Sept. 1, but only released to the media on Tuesday, Now Telecom maintained that it does not owe the state ₱2.6 billion.

It asked the high court to compel the NTC to recompute the supervision and regulation fees (SRF).

Now Telecom said the regulator's computation was "erroneous."

The firm said that the NTC based the SRF not on the subscribed and paid-up capital of ₱1.39 billion, but on the ₱13.57 billion, which is the sum of the capital stock and the additional paid-in capital (APIC) of ₱12.17 billion.

"The DOJ (Department of Justice) and the NTC have declared that any increase in the amount of paid-in capital stock resulting from debt to equity conversion should not be included in the computation of the SRF," the document read.

NOW Telecom further said that out of the ₱12.17 billion, about ₱11.51 billion was used to settle debts with only over ₱654.52 million left in 2005 until 2022.

"Assuming, only for the sake of argument, that APIC is part of capital stock, the purported APIC of ₱11,517,356,272 should only be considered as such in 2004 since this amount was created and used to wipe out or reduce the petitioner's deficit in 2005," NOW Telecom said.

The Supreme Court is also urged to delete the imposition of any penalty and interest.

"We are confident that this SRF issue will be finally resolved. NOW Telecom continues to appeal to the Marcos administration to affect a level playing field, for NOW to compete head-on with China Telecom/DITO and Huawei-equipped Smart and Globe," Mel Velarde, NOW Group Chairman, said in a separate statement.

Late in 2021, the NTC through the Office of the Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to resolve the issue, citing the government's need to raise more funds for its COVID-19 response.