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3rd telco player not limited to Chinese firm, Palace says

Malacañang is not closing the doors to other foreign players to compete with the Philippine telecommunications duopoly amid words of commitment to China.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, in a briefing yesterday, said that while Beijing-based China Telecom has already been nominated by its government to invest in the Philippines, other bidders could still be considered.
Citing constitutional hurdles, Roque signalled an orange light to what used to be a green light deal with China on breaking the telco duopoly.
“It appears to have been accepted because the Chinese government nominated China Telecoms. Now, we do not know if it will actually push through,” Roque said.
“As you know, the devil is always in the details,” he added.
There is a Constitutional provision that limits foreign-owned investments to merely 40 percent, requiring them to be partners with a local firm.
“I’m sure that Chinese side has been informed that we will have to comply with the Constitutional provision that Chinese ownership would be limited to 40 percent,” Roque said.
“If for any reason, China Telecoms or any company nominated by the Chinese government finds the 60-40 requirement in the Constitution to be unacceptable, then of course, that will give us now the option to offer it to other companies,” he added.
But Roque insisted that President Duterte, who wants to fasttrack the supposed third player’s operations as early as the first quarter of this year, is confident that China will man up to its commitment.
“There are no indications that China Telecom does not want to push through with the project,” he said.
The offer to China to compete with the Philippine telco duopoly was made in a bilateral talk between Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the latter’s state visit last November in Manila.

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