Duterte wants DICT to stick with March target for third telco player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte is set on having a third telecommunications player enter the country in March.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday Information and Communications Technology  Officer in Charge-Secretary Eliseo Rio requested to extend the deadline until May, but was denied during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

"There was a request from Officer-in-Charge Secretary Rio that they be given two additional months or until May to award and to ensure that the third telecoms carrier is up and about, this was not approved in yesterday's Cabinet meeting," Roque said in a media briefing.

He said the government will "stick it out" with the original time frame of having a third telecommunications group by next month.

Duterte said last year he wants a third telco provider to improve competition and internet speed.

He instructed government agencies to ensure it would be in operation by March 2018.

READ: Duterte: Third telco provider must be in by March 2018

Roque said Duterte had a stern warning for those trying to block the entry of a third player in the local telecommunications industry.

"It's enough to say that the warning is 'do not f*** with government.'" Roque said, citing Duterte.

He said the President lashed out at frequency holders giving government a difficult time in securing frequencies for a third player.

Roque said the President "would not allow" telecommunications company to charge fees for frequencies when they were owned and given by the state.

"The President was particularly displeased with the fact that in order to have a third telecoms player we would need to find frequencies to be allotted to the third telecom player," he said. "He was displeased with the fact that frequency given to a shell company CURE which apparently was given for free would have to be bought back by government in order that the third player could be given this frequencies."

He said Duterte "rejected" the proposal that the government pay for the frequencies.

"He warned everyone involved not to test the resolve of the President in allowing a third telecoms carrier to enter the country," Roque added.

Roque also said the government still appears to be inclined to award the contract for a third player to China.

Duterte had offered China a chance to enter the telecoms industry as a third player last year.

If it pushes through, China-owned telecommunications company, China Telecom, will own 40 percent of the third player, while a consortium of Filipino companies will share in the remaining 60 percent.

Roque said, however, the Chinese company will have to comply with local procedures.

"It was offered. It has appeared to have been accepted but we need to comply with all legal requirements including the holding of the bidding," he said.