• Duterte signs into law bill renewing Smart franchise

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    President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill extending the franchise of Smart Telecommunications Inc. by 25 years.

    Duterte signed on April 21 Republic Act (RA) 10926, which extends for another 25 years the legislative franchise granted to Smart in 1992.

    Smart, wholly owned by PLDT Inc., is one of the country’s leading wireless providers with millions of subscribers.

    The 1987 Constitution requires public utility firms to acquire a franchise from Congress to operate, as these use state owned frequencies.

    Under RA 10926, Smart was required to build telecommunication facilities in areas “not yet served, and in hazard- and typhoon-prone areas,” which will be determined by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in coordination with the National Telecommunications Office.

    Smart was also directed not to use its stations for “obscene or indecent transmissions, or the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.”

    The company will pay the same taxes on real estate, buildings and personal property, as well as value-added tax on all gross receipts of business transacted under the extended congressional franchise. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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