PINALUSOT ang House Bill No. 78 para makakawala ang telcos mula sa 60 percent Filipino ownership requirement ng Konstitusyon, ayon kay dating Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio.
Ang HB No. 78 ay inaprobahan ng Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso noong 10 Marso 2020, isang linggo bago isailalim ang Metro Manila at ang ilang bahagi ng bansa ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte sa enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) para mapigilan ang pagkalat ng coronavirus disease 2019 o COVID-19.
“That House bill, if approved by the Senate, will amend the Public Service Act to exclude telcos as public utilities which, under the Constitution, must at least be 60 percent Filipino-owned,” wika ng retired SC magistrate.
Aniya, ang pagsususog ay magpapahintulot sa foreign investors na magmay-ari ng 100 percent ng telco companies, na nagpapahiwatig na ang China Telecom ay maaaring maging 100 percent owner ng third telco na inudyukan ni Pres. Duterte noong 21 Nobyembre 2017.
Sa kasalukuyan, ang third telco sa bansa ay iginawad sa Dito Telecommunity, isa sa partnership ng Davao-based Udenna consortium at ng China’s state-owned telecom.
Ngunit sinabi ng dating SC justice: “Apparently China Telecom wants to come in as a majority, or even 100 percent owner, of the third telco.”
Aniya, ang HB No. 78 ay unconstitutional, at ipinaliwanag na, “the framers of our Constitution, in discussing Section 11, Article XII of the Constitution requiring public utilities to be at least 60 percent Filipino-owned, expressly referred to telco companies.”
Idinagdag niya: “Another provision of the Constitution, not covered in HB No. 78, also required telcos to be 60 percent Filipino-owned.”
Ipinaliwanag niya na ang telcos na hindi makapag-o-operate na hindi gagamit ng radio frequencies ay kailangang tumalima sa Sec. 2, Article VII ng Constitution, na nagsasaad: “All natural resources are owned by the State. The State may directly (exploit such natural resources), or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations at least 60 percent of whose capital is owned by such persons.”
Dagdag niya, ang frequencies ay natural resources na pag-aari ng estado: “Every franchise granted by Congress to utilize radio frequencies contains this provision: The radio spectrum is a finite resource that is part of the national patrimony and the use thereof is a privilege conferred upon the grantee by the State. This is a clear acknowledgement that radio frequencies are natural resources owned by the State, and can be utilized only by a corporation that is 60 percent Filipino-owned.”