CA stops NTC’s P7B-text refund

By , on August 23, 2014

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MANILA – Granting the petition filed by Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. (DMPI), the Court of Appeals recently stopped the enforcement of the P7-billion refund and reduced text-messaging fee by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Last May, the NTC has ordered the refund of an estimated P7 billion in “excess” charges over the past two years, for certain text messages.

The NTC Memorandum Circular No. 02-10-2011 also required the biggest telecoms in the country including Digitel which operates Sun Cellular, Globe and Smart Communications Inc. to reduce their interconnection charge from P0.35 to P0.15.

The country’s biggest firms, however, contested that there was no overcharging for short message services (SMS) rates. They further added that there was no basis for the NTC order.

“It is respectfully prayed that upon the filing of the instant petition for review, the Honorable Court issue a 60-day temporary restraining order…,” DMPI said in its petition.

In a resolution penned by Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla. Justices Noel Tijam and Agnes Reyes-Carpio, the court agreed with the petitioners and restrained the NTC from implementing the text-refund order.

“We agree with the petitioner that there is no means for it to ascertain the existence of the subscribers and the identities of the actual users of the Mobile Identification Numbers as may be found in its system. In addition, most of its subscribers are prepaid SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card users. To our mind, justice would be better served if the implementation of the NTC decision is restrained at this stage of the proceeding, especially that those who had intervened in the case had already moved for the writ of execution,” the appellate court’s Sixth Division said.

The temporary restraining order was directed by the court to be effective upon Digitel’s filing of a P500,000 cash bond or approval of a surety bond in favor of the subscribers affected.