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Opening the field

Monopolies don’t work.

In fact, they work against the interests of consumers and other stakeholders  in a given industry.

Remember the bad, old days of “party lines”?

That was the lowest point in the existence of the landline telephone monopoly in the country.

But are the other alternatives any better?

We have now two main telecom players providing a host of multimedia information and communication services.
   
The great irony is: The country still has one of the slowest in the world in terms of internet service.
   
And the situation demands swift Executive action.
   
Slow internet and high charges prompted Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to open up the ICT industry, as well as the energy sector, to new players to promote competitiveness and improve quality of service.
   
Pres. Duterte disclosed this during his arrival at Davao International Airport on Thursday night from his participation in the Asia Pacific-Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders Meeting in Lima, Peru.
   
He said plans are being finalized, including a review of the regulatory requirements and institutional arrangements, to hasten the entry of new competitors to invest in the Philippines in both the ICT and energy sectors.
   
“The only way to make this country faster to benefit the poor is really to open up communications, the airwaves, and the entire energy sector,” he said.
   
Unless something is done by the local telecommunication firms, he said: “My decision now is, this moment is, bubuksan ko ang Pilipinas (I will open the Philippines).” he added.
   
He said he has no second thoughts of opening up to new players, but assured multinational businesses and local capitalists that the move is not meant to “destroy” them.
   
“You will have, you have the advantage. You are here already. Be content with that. Okay na ‘yan para sa inyo (That’s fine for you). But let us open everything para matapos na itong kalbaryo ng Pilipino (in order to end the miseries of the Filipinos),” he stressed.
   
In an interview after the President’s arrival speech, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the move to welcome new players would be for the benefit of the public.
   
“Our internet connections…speed is among the lowest in the world so he wants to encourage competition to increase efficiency and to lower the cost,” he told reporters.
   
But Dominguez stressed the need to amend economic policies. “First of all in May we will be reviewing all areas of economic policies that limit (competition) - we will be expanding those and for those require constitutional change we will do it,” Dominguez said.
   
Given this plan, the President sees a flood of new players in the ICT and energy industries. Among those interested are Chinese investors, he said.
   
“Energy is really big money. Iyang cellphone na ‘yan (That cellular phone), I do not want to have a quarrel with the Ayalas and Pangilinan.”
   
He assured the same protection is given to all. “But I said it’s the Filipino. Now, kung i-dive ninyo ‘yang presyo ninyo, walang problema (if you drop all your charges, there’s no problem) I will forget my statement.”
   
This move, the President said, manifests his administration’s recognition of the significant role of more vibrant telecommunication and power industries and enables the country to participate in the global market with a competitive edge.