Solon Proposes Nationalization of Telecommunications Industry

Manila Bulletin, November 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

Solon Proposes Nationalization of Telecommunications Industry


By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A progressive solon strongly urged on Sunday the Duterte administration to nationalize the telecommunications industry, even as he warned that its liberalization would result in higher charges.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate made the call as Malacanang is seeking to ease foreign investment limits in the country.

"President Duterte's statement is now a signal for Congress to rush up the passage of Resolution of Both Houses No. 8 or Charter Change, now unmasked as nothing but mainly to allow foreign ownership of business' in the country," he said in a statement.

He noted that the Lower Chamber has passed two bills designed to liberalize the telecommunications sector.

"We voted NO to these bills, because we believe that further liberalization of the telecommunications sector among other strategic services will not result in better services for our people even if China, Malacanang's preferred investor, or other countries enter the sector," Zarate said.

"Moreover, Bayan Muna also believes that the government's role in a utility imbued with public interests like telecommunications should not only be limited to oversight, but instead of a more active participation and control," he added.

Zarate laments that liberalization and privatization failed to deliver the promised efficient, affordable and good services for the people.

He cited the power industry as an example, which was liberalized and opened up to a "free market" competition, but it has only resulted, he said, to sky-high electricity rates, fifth highest in the world.

The Bayan Muna lawmaker sought the retention of the provisions of House Bill (H.B.) 3876 which was filed last year and which was later included in the substituted H.B. 6557 and H.B. 6558.

The bill seeks to expand the powers of the National Telecommunications Commission to classify short messaging service, and internet services as utilities imbued with public interest.

Zarate withdrew as co-author of the substituted bills because he said "they no longer reflect the objectives for which Bayan Muna filed H. …

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