Palace denies Duterte links to Udenna CEO abetted win in 3rd telco bid

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Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo reiterates the selection process for the new major telecommunications player was fair.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) Malacañang on Thursday denied allegations that links between President Rodrigo Duterte and Mislatel Consortium abetted its winning bid for the country's new major telecommunications player.

"I think it's a baseless assumption because given the character of this President, it is far-fetched," Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said in a press briefing.

Davao tycoon Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics Holdings, state-owned China Telecom, and the Mindanao Islamic Telecommunications (Mislatel) formed a consortium and bagged the provisional spot as the third telco player on Wednesday. Uy is a known supporter and campaigner of the President.

"The President's policy is not to interfere with its departments," he said.

In an earlier statement, Panelo said the selection process by the National Telecommunications Commission was fair.

"There was a transparent, fair, public and open selection process, done in accordance with laws, as well as with pertinent rules and regulations," he earlier said.

Mislatel was selected from three bidders. The two others were Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and SEARS Telecom, the consortium of the LCS Group of Companies by Luis Chavit Singson and TierOne Communications. Both, however, were disqualified on the grounds of alleged lacking documents.

Singson on Thursday said he will file a motion for reconsideration for the disqualification of SEAR, adding that Udenna Corporation has a standing partnership with their consortium. PT&T also plans to appeal the NTC's ruling.

On Thursday, Senator Grace Poe called on the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to lay out the considerations that qualified the bidder.

"There were security concerns earlier raised over the participation of a foreign firm and these should not be sidestepped," she said.

In November 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier given Beijing permission to operate another telco player in the country to break the duopoly of Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart.