CA stops payment of ‘text’ refund

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AN order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for telecommunication firms to refund their subscribers some P7 billion for allegedly excessive short message service (SMS) or text charges has again been stopped by the Court of Appeals (CA).

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In a recent resolution, the CA’s 6th Division issued another temporary restraining order (TRO) against the NTC’s move, this time in favor of Smart Communications Inc.

Digitel Philippines last August 20 and Globe Telecom Inc. last September 3 obtained similar TROs from the appellate court.

The five-page resolution by the Sixth Division dated October 17, 2014 and written by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla issued the 60-day TRO against NTC.

The TRO aims to prevent any irreparable injury on Smart should its petition be granted on its merits.

“Wherefore, for the purpose of preserving the status quo during the pendency of the instant petition to prevent any irreparable damage that petitioner stands to suffer and to prevent any decision that may be rendered herein from becoming moot, academic and ineffectual, we resolve to grant the temporary restraining order sought for by petitioner Smart,” it said.

The CA required Smart to post a P500,000 bond.

The 6th Division earlier issued a similar TRO mandating NTC to cease and desist from enforcing its ruling issued on November 20, 2012 and resolution dated May 7, 2012.

The NTC ruled that the telecommunication firms violated its memorandum circular requiring Digitel, Globe and Smart to reduce their inter-connection charge to P0.15 per off-net SMS from the then prevailing P0.35.

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