By Masiding Noor Yahya
The Senate of the Philippines approved on Monday the franchises of DITO Telecommunity Corp. and other telecom company and four broadcast franchises.
Sen. Grace Poe, Chairperson of the Committee on Public Services, steered the passage of the measures.
17 senators voted for the franchise of DITO Telecommunity Corp, while Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan voted against it and Sen. Panfilo Lacson abstained.
Previously, the telecommunications sector was being dominated by SMART/Philippine Long Distance Company and Globe Telecommunications.
Sen. Poe said the entry of DITO Telecommunity as a new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market would spur the competition for more affordable and better internet and mobile services available to Filipinos.
House Bill 7332 seeks to renew DITO’s franchise for another 25 years. DITO holds a congressional franchise via Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc., which is set to expire in 2023.
DITO, which was launched commercially last March 8 in various areas in Visayas and Mindanao, was selected as the new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market. It was given a five-year network rollout to realize its commitment to provide at least 55 mbps of mobile data connectivity to at least 84 percent of the country’s population.
Also approved on third and final reading was House Bill No. 7615, under Committee Report No. 207, which seeks to grant the franchise of Instant Data Inc.
Also approved on third reading were four broadcast franchise applications, namely:
• House Bill No. 7488, under Committee Report No. 212 which seeks to grant the franchise of Davao City Radio Broadcasting Station. In light of the priority agenda of the Davao City government on disaster risk reduction, they plan to set up a community radio for emergency response and preparedness. The broadcast station will also be used to disseminate advocacy campaigns, as well as the city’s programs and projects.
• House Bill No. 7616, taking into consideration Senate Bill No. 1462, under Committee Report No. 214, seeks to renew the franchise of the University of the Philippines System. DZUP 1602 is the official radio station of the University of the Philippines which airs in Mega Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. Its radio programs are the collaborative effort of the different colleges and units of the University.
• House Bill No. 8553, under Committee Report No. 217, seeks to renew the franchise of Palawan Broadcasting Corp. At present, Palawan Broadcasting Corp. has radio stations in Taytay and Coron, Palawan, and in Catbalogan, Samar. In its early days, the company operates specifically for urgent personal messages known as ‘panawagan.’ After being shut down during martial law, it continued its broadcast services in 1986 and has been incorporating news, education and entertainment formats.
• And House Bill No. 8860, taking into consideration Senate Bill No. 2059 under Committee Report No. 221, seeks to grant the franchise of Highland Broadcasting Network Corp. which will provide broadcast services in Northern Mindanao, in unserved and underserved areas specifically the agricultural towns. (With story from PTV 4)