NTC: Telcos fought rules to protect consumers
The recent case of disappearing phone loads or pre-paid airtime might have been prevented if local telecommunications companies allowed government to implement stronger rules on consumer protection.
This was pointed out by National Telecommunications Commission Commissioner Ruel Canobas in an interview, as he admitted that telecommunications companies had been blocking the implementation of a memorandum circular that provides guidelines for erring companies. Senators on Tuesday condemned the country's mobile telecommunications providers for the alleged disappearance of prepaid card credits. A hearing was held by the joint Senate public service and trade and commerce to look into the supposed disappearances of phone credits.
Canobas said NTC Memorandum Circular No. 13-06-2000 was created in 2000 but was actively countered by the telecommunications companies, including Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.
The government rules cover sanctions against erring telecommunications companies, as well as rules that would require people to show identification whenever they’re buying prepaid SIM cards, mandatory billing statements for consumers, prepaid usage and interconnection. A court injunction was later filed to prevent the NTC rules from being implemented. Canobas said that the NTC is now seeking the lifting of the injunction.
In light of the alleged disappearance of pre-paid airtimes, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has proposed laws that would strengthen the NTC. Enrile said that one of the existing laws that would be reviewed is Executive Order 546 which created the NTC in 1979.
Enrile apparently was among the recent "victims" of the prepaid credit disappearance several weeks ago, after which he called for the hearing. He also claimed that many subscribers are suffering from similar problems. Senator Manuel Roxas II also warned that the Congress could interfere in the operations of the telecommunications providers if they continue to brush off complaints from mobile users.
"What you don't want is for Congress to start writing up your Operations Manual and imposing limits, including the number of minutes for lunch breaks or your pensions. We are resonating the public's complaint and if you stonewall these, we will take the necessary steps," Roxas said. Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. also joined in the fray saying that he would personally spearhead the review of the telecommunications franchise if the companies are unable to explain disappearance of the credits. "I would like to remind them that since a franchise is merely a privilege granted by the government through Congress, it would be tantamount to a gross violation of their franchise if such claims be proven true," warned Revilla, who chairs the Senate public service committee.
The telecommunications industry is governed under Republic Act 7925, which gives franchises to telecommunications companies. The NTC, which is now under the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), is the primary agency tasked to implement RA 7925. During the hearing, NTC Deputy Commissioner Douglas Millillin reminded the lawmakers of of an existing billing guideline for the value-added services providers and the telecommunications companies. He reiterated that Memorandum Circular 13-06-2000 was supposed to be implemented as early as 2000 but was held up due to an injunction imposed by the telecommunications firms.
Full Story: Philippine Daily Inquirer
Tsk tsk. Kelangang bantayan ang issue na ito at kailangang magpaliwanag ang 2 higanteng telcos ng bansa. Ako mismo naka-ilang post na sa blog ko tungkol sa nawawalang load credits na yan at maka-ilang beses na akong tumatawag sa pesteng Smart na yan kung bakit biglang nawawala ang load ko sa mga pagkakataon na wala naman akong ginagawa or malayo pa ako sa limit. Pero palagi na lang akong bigo sa paghahanap ng kasagutan mula sa kanila. Paano nga naman sasagot ang mga taga E-PLDT Ventus (customer service arm of PLDT/Smart) eh script lang naman sila umaasa at iyon lang ang pinapagawa sa kanila.
Pag napatunayang guilty nga ang mga ito, dapat pagbayaran nila ang mga ninanakaw nilang load sa taumbayan. Kahit maliiit lang at patingi-tingi kung iipunin eh kulang pang pambayad ang mga hinuhuthot nila sa tao. Pinaghihirapan namin yang load na yan para makabili tapos gugulangan nyo pa kami. Kapal din ng mukha niyo. Para kayong mga kumpanya ng langis, siguro nga may cartel na ring nabubuo sa mga telcos na yan. Mga swapang.
Sana nga may mangyari dito sa Senate Hearing na ito at magbunga sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng mas malakas na batas na magpro-protekta sa mga consumers at matatalas na ngipin at kung pwede nga lang i-cyanide na ang mga ga**** Telcos na swapang na yan.