The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the legality of Globe Telecom and PLDT’s purchase of San Miguel’s telecommunication assets, dealing blow to an anti-trust body’s bid to review the multi-billion peso deal.
A 54-page decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato and concurred with by fellow associate justices Manuel Barrios and Maria Eliza Sempio Diy, the CA’s Former 12th Division ordered the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to effectively approve the P69.1-billion sale, announced in May last year.
Asked for a statement, PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan replied that the anti-trust body “cannot comment since we have yet to receive a copy of any decision from the Court of Appeals”.
Globe and PLDT officials were also unavailable.
The CA in August of last year issued a preliminary injunction against the PCC following appeals filed by PLDT and Globe, which claimed that the deal was already approved as rules in effect at the time of the deal only mandated them to notify the anti-trust body.
The PCC has since elevated its bid to review the deal to a higher court, in April of this year asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow the review.
In the latest decision, the CA division ruled that “premises considered, the petitions filed by petitioners Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecoms, Inc. are hereby granted,” it ruled.
“The writ of preliminary injunction enjoining and directing Philippine Competition Commission, its officials and agents, or persons acting for and on its behalf to cease and desist from conducting further proceedings for the pre-acquisition review and/or investigation of the subject acquisition … is made permanent,” it added.
“A writ of mandamus is hereby issued compelling the Philippine Competition Commission to recognize the subject acquisition as deemed approved by operation of law.”
The court said the PCC “cannot whimsically disregard” the transitory rules in effect when Globe and PLDT announced the deal.
“By not following its own rules and regulations, PCC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,” it stated
The court also said that it was the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that has the technical expertise to allocate frequencies to telecom companies, which cannot be unilaterally reviewed by the PCC.
“It is only the NTC that has the power (not to mention the technical expertise and institutional experience) to allocate radio frequencies, and the PCC certainly has no authority to review, reverse or modify the NTC decision,” it pointed out.
The PCC, which in March this year filed a motion for partial reconsideration before the CA, was also ordered to remove statements of concern posted on the agency’s webside.
A motion for intervention filed by the CitizenWatch group questioning the sale was also rejected.
Concerns over the deal center on Globe and PLDT’s continuing dominance amid complaints over the state of telecommunications services in the Philippines.
San Miguel was looking to challenge the duopoly but was forced to drop out after partnership talks with Australia’s Telstra fell through.
Courtesy: The Manila Times | BY JOMAR CANLAS, TMT | ON