Consumer watchdog asks government to observe rule of law in dealing with telcos

Consumer watchdog Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) asked the government to respect the Constitution and rule of law and stop bullying private companies into submission especially during the critical period of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We don’t need a bully in this pandemic,” BK3 convenor Louie Montemar said in a statement.

The group said the government’s rough and roguish approach can be unsettling.  In his State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte delivered a threat against telecommunication companies for their alleged poor service.

Montemar said such a threat cannot just be taken lightly or ignored now given the case of ABS CBN Corp. whose thousands of employees and workers have just lost their jobs.

“If there is a real basis for Smart and Globe to be sanctioned for their service delivery, those must be identified and accounted for through formal investigations and trials based on our laws. If they are found to have breached rules, then they should be sanctioned or fined accordingly. Throwing a threat in public is unnecessary and improper,” he said.

BK3 said the impropriety of declaring that a firm can be expropriated with no established bases smacks of power-tripping. “If government could just do that to any large firm or business, smaller players and businesses would even be more in danger. There is no place for threats from a bully in a health crisis and in the economic management of a democratic polity,” the group said.

It said that even the current crisis would not be reason enough for the government to do expropriation of certain industries. “In fact, we could have bigger crises if government does so, for it doesn't have the ability to run major operations that need the highest technical and professional qualifications of personnel such as those in telecommunications,” Montemar said.

The group said the government has failed a number of times to make projects viable because of its inefficient services to the dismay of Filipino citizens.  This led to the development of the Public Private Partnership mode—a project development scheme where government does not have to spend a single centavo of public funds.

“If the Constitution is to be truly honored, there is a way to make companies pay for their corrupt practices through our laws. The more blatant form of corruption is that which happens when we disrespect our laws and the Constitution,” BK3 said.

“We need a leader who not only knows what the law is, but also knows how to use that law correctly and justly. We don't need the rule of a bully. We need the rule of law,” Montemar said.

Globe Telecom earlier said that red tape at the LGU level is the one to blame for the slow pace of service improvement. In Metro Manila, gated subdivisions oppose when telcos apply to place a tower near them.

A former Department of Information and Communication Technology official also said in a Facebook post that, “the real problem is the red-tape that only the government can solve”.

“The government does not need to put up any funds for telecommunication infrastructure. It only needs to facilitate the telcos to provide efficient public services, and not threaten them with expropriation. The ball is in the hands of the government,” the former official said.

Topics: Bantay Konsyumer , Kalsada , Kuryente , BK3 , Louie Montemar , telecommunication companies
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