PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte offered to China the “privilege” to operate a third telecommunications company to break the existing duopoly in the country, Malacañang said on Monday.
The offer was made during the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Malacañang on Wednesday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.
“During the bilateral talks between President Duterte and the Chinese premier, President Duterte offered to the People’s Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecoms carrier in the country,” said Roque.
Roque said the offer came after the Philippine government signed up with an affiliate of Facebook, the Pacific Light Cable Network, on a project titled the “Luzon Bypass,” which will provide bandwidth of two terabits per second.
“These two terabits is equivalent to the current capacity of the duopoly operators today,” Roque said.
“I repeat, the announcement is that the duopoly, that telecom duopoly, is about to end with the entry of the Facebook subsidiary as well as the offer by the president to the People’s Republic of China to operate the third telecoms carrier,” Roque said.
Telcos ‘open to competition’
The telco duopoly, PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, shrugged off President Duterte’s bid to open the telco industry to a Chinese player.
“That’s the government’s call. As for us, we welcome competition,” Mon Isberto, PLDT spokesman, said in a text message to reporters on Monday.
Globe Telecom has yet to comment on the issue. But in an earlier interview with Globe President and Chief Executive Officer Ernest Cu, he said every company wanting to enter the sector was “welcome.”
“Our focus is to grow our business and be competitive. We’re there to compete,” he added.
PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan also shared his thoughts regarding the matter during a media briefing on November 9. “We’re not averse to anyone coming in today in the industry. They’re welcome. This is a free economy and we’re not going to take any steps to impose it,” he said.
Pangilinan stressed that PLDT did not want to be accused of “maintaining this duopoly” amid clamor for faster internet connections.
Asked if PLDT was threatened, he said: “We’re always vigilant.”
with LISBET K. ESMAEL