Mislatel, the consortium established to become the Philippines' third telco, faces having its status as the market's new major player canceled due to questions over the validity of its franchise.
During senate hearings on the new telecommunications venture yesterday, senate minority leader Franklin Drilon asserted that Mislatel's franchise is void because the operating company holding the franchise had failed to meet the conditions, Rapplerreported.
Mislatel is a joint venture between China Telecom and business concerns held by Filipino entrepreneur Dennis Uy. One of Uy's companies, the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company – also known as Mislatel – was granted a telecommunications franchise in 1998.
But according to Drilon, this franchise carried conditions including launching within a year of the franchise being granted or operating continuously for three years, conditions he said Mislatel failed to meet, rendering the franchise void.
Questions have also been raised about whether Mislatel received preferential treatment from president Rodrigo Duterte, after Uy admitted to donating funds to Duterte's 2016 election campaign, and flying members of the third telco selection committee on his private jet.
But senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri has cautioned against being too strict with the interpretation of the validity of Mislatel's franchise, asserting that around 90% of congressional franchise holders violate some provisions of the law.
Meanwhile Mislatel has submitted its third telco rollout plan, unveiling plans to install around 10,000 mobile sites across the country over the next seven years.
During the hearing, Uy said the company does not just plan to become the Philippines' third telco, but the best telco, and that despite his lack of experience operating a telecoms business he is confident he can improve the Philippines' internet speeds to at least 55Mbps.