3 telco firms get fresh 25-year franchises

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law three measures granting new franchises to three telecommunication firms.,Duterte inked Republic Act 11757 and 11758 which allowed Laguna-based Independent Telephone Company Inc. and Sultan Kudarat Telephone System Inc., respectively, to continue its operations for another 25 years.,He also approved the franchise bid of Derecho Telecommunications Inc. through RA 11759.,The newly-signed laws required the companies to secure permits and licenses from the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) for the construction, installation, and operation of its systems or facilities.,Such certificates should state the areas covered and the date the firms could commence their services, according to the measures.,Duterte said the three telco companies should “conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and not use its stations or facilities for obscene or indecent transmission, or for dissemination of deliberately false information, or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.”,Should the firm violate any provisions of its franchise, the NTC was authorized to revoke or suspend the permits or licenses it had granted to the company.,The measures also authorized the Philippine president to temporarily take over and operate the stations or facilities of Telephone Company, Sultan Kudarat Telephone System, and Derecho Telecommunications in times of war and rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order.,The franchise would be deemed revoked if it failed to operate continuously for two years. It was also subject to amendment or repeal by Congress when the “public interest so required and shall not be interpreted as an exclusive grant of privilege.”,Duterte’s laws also mandated the firms to generate employment opportunities and accept on-the-job trainees in its franchise operations in accordance with the country’s labor standards.,As stated in the measures, the telco companies should submit to the Congress annual reports on its compliance with the terms and conditions of its franchises, including updates on the rollout, development, and operation of its businesses.,Failure to do so would be penalized by a fine of P1 million for each working day of noncompliance, Duterte said.,The measures were signed on 29 April, but copies were only published on Thursday morning.,It would take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.,