Philippines president warns of competition to Globe and PLDT
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Philippines president warns of competition to Globe and PLDT

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is promising to open up telecoms in the country to foreign competition, saying the move would “promote competitiveness and improve quality of service”.

Duterte made his remarks – described as a prepared speech, but not yet officially published by the president’s office – on his return on Wednesday from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru.

“The Philippines acknowledges the significant role of more vibrant telecommunications and power industries to be able to participate in the global market with a competitive edge,” he said.

If carried out, the move would threaten the dominant position of the two big players in the Philippines telecoms market, Globe Telecom and PLDT.

However, one unconfirmed report, in Update Philippines, said that Duterte partly retracted his remarks after the speech, saying he would withdraw the threat if prices were reduced.

“I don’t want to have a quarrel with the Ayalas and Pangilinan,” Duterte said – a reference to the family that controls the Ayala corporation that owns Globe and to Manuel Pangilinan, the chairman of PLDT.

But in his earlier speech, widely reported in the Philippines media, he said: “In the area of telecommunications, we are now finalizing our plans to open up the information and communications technology industry to new players in order to promote competitiveness and improve quality of service.

“The only way to make this country move faster to benefit the poor is really to open up the communications, the airwaves and the entire energy sector.”

Duterte, who was elected president in May, said his administration is looking at frameworks that would allow the entry of new players.

He warned before the APEC event that his government wanted to bring “improvements in doing business through more efficient and responsive governance, massive investments in new infrastructure, a new focus on the rural development, and increased investments in human capital”. He said: “The Philippines is open for business.”