By Prince Golez
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed laws renewing and granting legislative franchises to three telecommunication companies in various parts of the country.
Republic Act No. (RA) 11758 and RA 11757 grant a 25-year franchise extension to Sultan Kudarat Telephone System Inc. and Independent Telephone Company Inc., respectively.
RA 11759 (Derecho Telecommunications) was also approved to put up and maintain their respective telecommunications systems and services.
The laws direct the grantees to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity or the appropriate permits and licenses for the construction, installation, and operation of its telecommunications systems or facilities.
An approval from the Department of Public Works and Highways or the local government unit concerned should they erect, lay or maintain poles or other supports for wires or other conductors, and make excavations or lay conduits in any of the public places of the province, cities, or municipalities.
The grantees shall have the following responsibilities:
-Conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and not use its stations or facilities for obscene or indecent transmission, or for dissemination of deliberately false information, or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts
-Operate and maintain all its stations, lines, cables, systems, and equipment for the transmission and reception of messages, signals, and pulses in a satisfactory manner at all times, and as far as economical and practicable, modify, improve, or change such stations, lines, cables, systems, and equipment to keep abreast with the advances in science and technology
-Improve and extend its services in areas not yet served, and in hazard- and typhoon-prone areas that shall be determined by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, or its legal successor, in coordination with the NTC; and
-Improve and upgrade its equipment facilities and services, in order to ensure effective compliance with the objectives of the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act.
The measures authorizes the President to temporarily take over and operate the stations, transmitters, facilities, or equipment of the grantees in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order.
Duterte signed RA 11757, RA 11758, and RA 11759 on April 29, 2022.