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MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied NOW Telecom‘s plea to compel the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to give it specific mobile frequencies, citing the telco’s unclear legal right to these and its past non-compliance issues.
The CA’s Special Ninth Division ruled on September 28 that NOW Telecom’s right over the frequencies in question remains “in legal limbo.” The court also said that the telco failed to show its “clear and legal right” to use the frequencies that the NTC has yet to assign to it.
The frequency ranges that NOW Telecom seeks are 1970 Mhz to 1980 Mhz paired with 2160 Mhz to 2170 Mhz, and 3.6 Ghz to 3.8 Ghz.
NOW Telecom had asked the court to compel the NTC to follow a resolution and order of automatic approval issued by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) on March 1, 2021.
ARTA earlier said that NOW Telecom’s application for a provisional authority for the frequency ranges were automatically approved. However, this very order came into question when ARTA reversed the decision in a resolution on June 17, 2022, requiring NOW Telecom to bring its application for frequency assignment before the NTC.
The ARTA resolution, however, is not yet final as it still faces an ongoing appeal before the Office of the President, the CA said in its decision.
Rooting their case in ARTA’s initial March 2021 resolution, NOW Telecom turned to the appellate court, filing a petition for mandamus. This is a legal remedy that orders a government official, agency, or other public body to perform a duty that they are legally obligated to perform – in this case, for NTC to grant NOW Telecom the frequency ranges that it wants.
However, the CA emphasized the stringent criteria for mandamus petitions. The court highlighted that it can only be issued when the petitioner presents an unambiguous and definite legal right to the demands made. Here, the CA argued that the NTC has the discretion whether or not to grant NOW Telecom the right to use these frequency ranges.
The CA also noted that the NTC already disqualified NOW Telecom in the past for non-compliance with legal requirements. Ordering the frequencies to be immediately assigned to the telco might overstep the NTC’s rightful decision-making authority. – Rappler.com