Congress helpless against telcos

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ANY way you look at it, Congress is to blame for the execrable Internet services in the country. As far back as 10 years ago, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had already pushed for the amendment of the antiquated laws which continue to allow the telecommunication companies (telcos) to do very much as they please which as we all know is to make the lives of Filipinos miserable. As early as two terms ago, our legislators already knew that what’s making our Internet services stink is the ridiculous P200 a day penalty for erring public service companies set by the Public Service Act of 1936 and the failure of the Public Telecommunications Act of 1995 to classify Internet service as a basic service, thus putting it beyond the regulatory powers of the NTC.

The trouble with our senators and congressmen is that none of them is really serious about amending these obsolete laws. Just look at Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th. In the last term he filed a bill seeking to institute the needed amendments to the Public Service Law giving the NTC teeth in dealing with erring telcos. Apart from that, he was all over the papers urging and proposing this and that course of action to improve the Internet services in the country but this term, he is mum about the matter. Over in the Lower House, after the press releases about the filing of the bills meant to upgrade our Internet services, nothing more is heard about the bills. Aquino and the sponsor of the parallel bill in the Lower House did not fight tooth and nail to get the important legislations enacted. That is as clear as day.

As expected, bills for this purpose have been filed in both chambers this term but we are about half way into the term and we have yet to hear of any decisive and vigorous moves to get them passed. It is possible that we have heard the last of them—until they are rehashed and filed in the coming term. Maybe they are waiting for the centennial of the Public Service Act to act.

Clearly, when it comes to improvement of Internet services in the country, the ball and the buck is in Congress. No one in this country except them could do something about the 81-year-old law which render the government helpless against the greedy and abusive telcos but our legislators are dribbling the ball to kingdom come. They all pay lip service to the necessity of revolutionizing the Internet services in the country but down to a man, they all wither before the telcos. Pathetic.


Estanislao Albano Jr.
Correspondent
Tabuk, Kalinga

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