Lawmaker urges NTC to include penalties in telcos’ refund

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Friday, May 9, 2014

By John Carlo Cahinhinan

A MILITANT lawmaker on Friday urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to order all telecommunication companies to include interest payments in their refund to consumers.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares said the NTC should not only strictly impose its order for immediate refund but also be ordered to pay legal interest of at least P438-million to the subscribers.


"Aside from the P7.3 billion refund, the telcos should also be ordered to pay legal interest of at least P438 million to the subscribers," Colmenares said.

The Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker noted that giant telcos have refused to implement the NTC decision to lower the short messaging system (SMS) rates by P0.20 per local text message since 2011.

He added that the NTC should also increase its P200 per day fine to P20,000/day as this is "peanuts for the telcos."

"The fine must be in an amount that would teach these telcos a lesson not to unjustly overcharge subscribers to increase their already super-profits... the fine must be included in the refund subscribers instead of going to the NTC since it is the public who suffered injury and not the government," Colmenares said.

The lawmaker also stressed that since telcos have made extra profit of at least P8-million per day in the last two years, the P200/day fine is a mere slap in the wrist for them.

The NTC recently ordered the Ayala-led Globe Telecom and Manuel Pangilinan-led Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and its marketing units, Smart Communications and Digital Mobile Phil. (Sun Cellular) to slash their SMS rate to "other networks" to 80 centavos from P1.00.

The 20-centavo reduction was based from the NTC's Memorandum Circular no. 02-10-2011.

"The refund and the payment for damages should immediately be implemented by adding credit to the prepaid load of prepaid subscribers and implement the refund through the subscriber billing for postpaid subscribers. There can also be a mechanism for a cash refund if the subscribers demand it," the lawmaker said.

Colmenares also recently filed a measure which aims to regulate telco rates and require detailed billing of prepaid credits and other improvements to protect subscribers from alleged overcharging by various telcos.

House Bill 1776, "An Act Promoting the Rights of Mobile Phone Subscribers by Regulating Prices, Requiring Telecommunication Service Companies," aims to provide detailed billing of prepaid credits, number portability, lowered pulse Rate and other service improvement.

Colmenares also urged House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to prioritize the propose bill. (Sunnex)

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