If China telco deal doesn’t pan out, PH to tap other telco players

Pia Ranada
If China telco deal doesn’t pan out, PH to tap other telco players


Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque raises the possibility that China Telecom may find unacceptable the constitutional limitations on foreign ownerships of telco companies

MANILA, Philippines – If China or its choice telecommunication company China Telecom can’t work with the limitations on business ownership in the Philippines’ constitution, the government is open to tapping other companies to help set up the 3rd telco player in the country.

This was stated by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Wednesday, January 3, during a Malacañang press briefing.

“If, for any reason this is not acceptable to China Telecom, then we have no choice. We gave China the option but if this is not acceptable to it, unfortunately we will have to look for other players because we will have to honor what the constitution provides,” he said.

The 1987 Constitution states that Filipinos must own 60% of a telecommunication company, with foreign ownership limited to 40%.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte, as early as the 2016 presidential campaign, has expressed openness to revising the constitutional requirements on foreign ownership and other economic provisions.

If China is unwilling to abide by the charter’s requirements, the Philippine government will have “the option to offer it to other companies,” said Roque.

But Duterte’s spokesman emphasized that China Telecom has so far not expressed any concerns or aversion to the constitutional limitation.

“There are no indications that China Telecom does not want to push through with the project,” said Roque.

Duterte wants China Telecom operating in the Philippines by the first quarter of 2018 and has given orders for all its applications and licenses to be approved within 7 days or else they are deemed approved.

The administration wants China to come in to quickly set up a 3rd telco player in order to break the duopoly in the critical industry formed by PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom, both of which were also set up with the help of foreign companies.

Duterte had made the offer to China to name the 3rd telco’s foreign partner during a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in November 2017. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.