"New Kid on the Anti-Trust Block: Department of Justice"
by Mars Veloso
Published 17 June 2011, TXTM8
TXTM8 is Consumer Advocacy Group for Telecommunication Issues in the Philippines
(Original article available here).
"Aside from the glaring fact that prominent newspaper columnists seem to be lobbying for either Globe or PLDT, let’s review the external pressure placed upon the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to approve/disapprove the share swap agreement between PLDT and Digitel:
- The Senate Public Services Committee has undertaken an independent review… and has decided that it was without power to interfere.
- At least three (3) congressional resolutions have been passed to probe the deal. Unfortunately, Congress is in recess.
- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been tasked to jointly review the deal with the NTC.
- The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) is being pushed to study the effects of the “merger” on the public welfare.
- And now, via Executive Order No. 45, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been designated as the country’s “competition authority.”
What is glossed over however from this series of high-profile developments in the media is that the NTC itself is sitting on a gold mine. It has in its possession a relevant, existing, well-researched competition policy document which highlights best practices from around the world to guarantee that competition can thrive even in monopoly-rich environments. Is attention being given to this document? Senators Osmena, Arroyo, and Recto appear to have understood the relevance of this document during the recently concluded senate inquiry. The NTC has acknowledged its existence… and that it is still “being studied.” No mention is made of the fact that this document has lingered in the NTC’s archives for four or five years.
Now that a monopoly is being subtly re-engineered, today is the best time to ensure that the document’s contents become pre-conditions to the approval of the share-swap agreement. Today is the best time to make the relevant government agencies aware that a sector-specific competition policy document actually exists… and that it was created by the very entity charged to enforce it: the NTC!
The execution of such a policy document can serve as the middle ground for the regulator; a virtual “win-win” scenario in the controversial application process now being undertaken by PLDT and Digitel. If properly implemented, the telecom giants win by having their “merger” approved and the public wins by the very fact that true competition is finally allowed to exist in the market. The only question is: will the NTC finally execute? Or will it falter once more?"