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Malacañang Palace said executives of the country’s two major telecommunication companies can meet with the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) if they want to discuss in detail the plans to improve their services.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), urged Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc., the wireless arm of PLDT Inc., to improve their services by December or risk expropriation.

“Nandiyan naman po ang NTC, ang regulatory body, para makausap nila (The NTC is there for them to talk to),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.

Asked if Duterte was open to meeting with executives himself, he said telcos should provide better service to their customers regardless if a meeting is possible.

“I don’t think it is without prejudice to meeting with them kung gusto nila pero importante, meeting or no meeting pabutihin ang serbisyo (if they want but what’s important is, meeting or no meeting, they should improve their services),” he said.

According to Roque, the NTC will be in charge of declaring whether telco services have improved by December.

“Marami pong mga batayan iyan at alam po ng NTC iyan, mayroon po iyong mga dropped calls, mayroon po iyong mga—kung malinaw nga ba iyong mga tawag, mayroon po silang mga measurement para diyan (There are many bases to know that they have improved their services and the NTC knows them, there’s the issue on dropped calls, on whether people can clearly hear each other, they have a way of measuring it),” he said.

Roque lamented that besides Duterte, he too experienced issues with his mobile service.

“Yung naghahawak ng certificate of public convenience ay dapat magbigay ng convenience sa publiko at hindi dapat nagpapahirap (Those with certificate of public convenience should give convenience to the public and not difficulty),” he added.

Meanwhile, he denied that Duterte was prioritizing better mobile and internet services over the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Hindi lang po telcos ang sinabi niyang magiging prayoridad niya. Lahat po ng mga bagay-bagay na makakabuti sa taong-bayan ‘yun po yung sinabi niyang prayoridad. Isa lang po ang telcos (He didn’t say telcos will be his only priority. Everything that will benefit the people will be his priority. One of them is better telco service),” he said.

Amid the health crisis, he emphasized the importance of communication especially among patients and their loved ones.

In his fifth SONA, Duterte said he would take “drastic steps” against Globe and Smart if they do not improve their “less-than-ideal” services by yearend.

“Tell us now if you cannot really improve on it because I will work by December. I have two years. The next two years will be spent on improving the telecommunications of this country without you. I will find way. I will talk to Congress and find a way how to do it,” he said.

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