R.A. 9317 - AN ACT GRANTING THE DATELCOM CORPORATION A FRANCHISE TO CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, ESTABLISH, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN LOCAL, EXCHANGE NETWORK IN REGION III
Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Third Regular Session
Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-eight day of July, two thousand and three.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9317
AN ACT GRANTING THE DATELCOM CORPORATION A FRANCHISE TO CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, ESTABLISH, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN LOCAL, EXCHANGE NETWORK IN REGION III
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
Section 1. Nature and Scope of Franchise. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and applicable laws, rules and regulations, there is hereby granted to the Datelcom Corporation, hereunder referred to as the grantee, its successors or assigns, a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain for commercial purposes and in the public interest, local exchange network, including public calling stations or pay telephone stations or wireless local loop and their value-added services in Region lll, and for such purpose, provide basic telephone service capable of accessing local, national, international and other networks.
Sec. 2. Manner of Operation of Stations or Facilities. The stations or facilities of the grantee shall be constructed and operated in a manner as will, at most, result only in the minimum interference on the wavelengths or frequencies of the existing stations or other stations which may be established by law, without in any way diminishing its own right to use its selected wavelengths or frequencies and the quality of transmission or reception thereon as should maximize rendition of the grantees services an/or the availability thereof. In no way shall the operators of the grantee, nor the radiated power of its stations or facilities, exceed that required to cover the area where it is allowed to operate.
Sec. 3. Authority of the National Telecommunications Commission. The grantee shall secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), hereinafter referred to as the Commission, a certificate of public convenience and necessity or the appropriate permits and licenses for the construction, installation and operation of its telecommunications systems/facilities. In issuing the certificate, the Commission shall have the power to impose such conditions relative to the construction, operation, maintenance or service level of the telecommunications system. The Commission shall have the authority to regulate the construction and operation its frequency in the radio spectrum without having been authorized by the Commission. Such certificate shall state the areas covered and date the grantee shall commence the service. The Commission, however, shall not unreasonable withhold or delay the grant of any such authority, permits or licenses.
Sec. 4. Responsibility to the Public. The grantee shall conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and shall not use its stations/facilities for obscene or indecent transmission or for dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentations, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.
The grantee shall provide basic or enhanced telephone service within Region lll, where it has an approved certificate of public convenience and necessity for the establishment, operation and maintenance of a local exchange service, without discrimination to any applicant therefor, in the order of the data of their applications, up to the limit of the capacity of its local telephone exchange, and should the demand for the telephone service at any time increase beyond the capacity thereof, the grantee shall increase the same to meet such demand: Provided; That in case the total demand to be satisfied by the expansion is less than the smallest viable local exchange available in the market as determined by the Commission, the grantee shall not be obliged to furnish such service unless the applicant for telephone service defrays the actual expenses for the installation of the telecommunications apparatus necessary for such services and in such case, the Commission may extend the time within which the grantee shall furnish such service.
The grantee shall 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, cable systems and equipment to keep abreast with the advances in science and technology.
Sec. 5. Rates for Services. The charges and rates for telecommunications services of the grantee, except the rates and charges on those that may hereafter be declared or considered as nonregulated services, whether flat rates or measured rates or variation thereof, shall be subject to the approval of the Commission or its legal successor. The rates to be charged by the grantee shall be unbundled, separable and distinct among the services offered and shall be determined in such a manner that regulated services do not subsidize the unregulated ones.
Sec. 6. Right of Government. A special right is hereby granted to the President of the Philippines, in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order, to temporarily take over and operate the stations, transmitters, facilities or equipment of the grantee, to temporarily suspend the operation of any station, transmitter, facility or equipment in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any agency of the government, upon due compensation to the grantee for the use of said stations, transmitters, facilities or equipment during the period when they shall be so operated.
The radio spectrum is a finite resource that is part of the national patrimony and the use thereof is a privilege conferred upon the grantee by the State and may be withdrawn anytime after due process.
Sec. 7. Term of Franchise. This franchise shall be for a term of twenty-five (25) years from the date of effectivity of this Act, unless sooner revoked or cancelled. This franchise shall be deemed ipso facto revoked in the event the grantee fails to comply with any of the following conditions:
(a) Commence operations within three (3) years from the approval of its operating permit or provisional authority by the NTC.
(b) Operate continuously for two (2) years; and
(c) Commence operations within five (5) years from the effectivity of this Act.
Sec. 8. Acceptance and Compliance. Acceptance of this franchise shall be given in writing sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act. Upon giving such acceptance, the grantee shall exercise the privilege granted under this Act. Nonacceptance shall render the franchise void.
Sec. 9. Bond. The grantee shall file a bond issued in favor of the NTC, which shall determine the amount, to guarantee the compliance with and fulfillment of the conditions under which this franchise is granted. If, after five (5) years from the date of the approval of its permit by the Commission, the grantee shall have fulfilled the same, the bond shall be cancelled by the Commission. Otherwise, the bond shall be forfeited in favor of the government and the franchise ipso facto revoked.
Sec. 10. Right of Interconnection. The grantee is hereby authorized to connect or demand connection of its telecommunications systems to any other telecommunications systems installed, operated and maintained by any other duly authorized person or entity in the Philippines for the purpose of providing extended and improved telecommunications services to the public, under such terms and conditions mutually agreed upon by the parties concerned and the same shall be subject to the review or modification of the Commission.
Sec. 11. Tax Provisions. The grantee, its successors or assigns, shall be subject to the payment of all taxes, duties, fees or charges and other impositions under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, as amended, and other applicable laws: Provided, further. That all rights, privileges, benefits and exemptions accorded to existing and future telecommunications franchises shall likewise be extended to the grantee.
The grantee shall file the return with the city or province where its principal office is located and pay the taxes due thereon to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or his duly authorized representatives in accordance with the NIRC and the return shall be subject to audit by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Sec. 12. Gross Receipts. The grantee, its successors or assigns, shall keep a separate account of the gross receipts of the business transacted by it and shall furnish the Commission on Audit (COA) and the National Treasury a copy of such account not later than the thirty-first (31st) day of January of each year for the preceding twelve (12) months.
Sec. 13. Books and Accounts. The books and accounts of the grantee, its successor or assigns, shall always be open to the inspection of the Commissioner on Audit or his authorized representatives and it shall be the duty of the grantee to submit to the COA, two (2) copies of the quarterly reports on the gross receipts, the net profits and the general condition of the business.
Sec. 14. Warranty in Favor of National and Local Governments. The grantee shall hold the national, provincial, city and municipal governments of the Philippines harmless from all claims, accounts, demands or actions arising out of accidents or injuries, whether to property or to persons, caused by the construction or operation of the stations, transmitters, facilities, and equipment of the grantee.
Sec. 15. Sale, Lease, Transfer, Usufruct, Etc. The grantee shall not lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, sell nor assign this franchise or the rights and privileges acquired thereunder to any person, firm, company, corporation or other commercial or legal entity, nor merge with any other corporation or entity, nor shall the controlling interest of the grantee be transferred, whether as a whole or in parts and whether simultaneously or contemporaneously, to any such person, firm, company, corporation or entity without the prior approval of the Congress of the Philippines. Any person or entity o which this franchise is sold, transferred or assigned, shall be subject to the same conditions, terms, restrictions and limitations of this Act.
Sec. 16. Dispersal of Ownership. In accordance with the constitutional provision to encourage public participation in the public utilities, the grantee shall offer at least thirty percentum (30%) of its outstanding capital stock or a higher percentage that may hereafter be provided by law in any securities exchange in the Philippines within ten (10) years from the commencement of its operations. The public offering shall comply with the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Noncompliance therewith shall render the franchise ipso facto revoked.
Sec. 17. Equality Clause. Except for taxes, any advantage, favor, privilege, exemption or immunity granted under existing franchises, or may hereafter be granted, shall ipso facto become part of this franchise and shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the herein grantee. Provide, however, That the foregoing shall neither apply to nor affect provisions of telecommunications franchises concerning territory covered by the franchises, the life span of the franchise or the type of service authorized by the franchise.
Sec. 18. Separability Clause. If any of the sections or provisions of this Act is held invalid, all the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain valid.
Sec. 19. Repealability and Nonexclusivity Clause. This franchise shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by the Congress of the Philippines when the public interest so requires and shall not be interpreted as an exclusive grant of the privileges herein provided for.
Sec. 20. Reportorial Requirement. The grantee shall submit an annual report to the Congress of the Philippines on its compliance with the terms and conditions of its franchise and on it operations within sixty (60) days from the end of every year.
Sec. 21. Effectivity Clause. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days from the date of its publication, upon the initiative of the grantee, in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.
JOSE DE VENECIA JR.
This Act which originated in the House of Representatives was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on June 10, 2004.
OSCAR G G. YABES
ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
President of the Philippines
Lapsed into law on August 8, 2004
Without the signature of the President,
In accordance with Article VI,
Section 27 (1) of the Constitution