Republic of the Philippines
CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Metro Manila

Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-eighth day of July, two thousand eight.

Republic Act No. 9707               August 08, 2009

AN ACT GRANTING THE CONVERGE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS, INC. A FRANCHISE TO CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, ESTABLISH, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS THROUGHOUT THE PHILIPPINES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representative of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Nature and Scope of Franchise. - Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and applicable laws, rules and regulations, there is hereby granted to Converge Information and Communications Technology Solutions, Inc. hereunder referred to a as the grantee, its successors or assigns, as franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain for commercial purposes and in the public interest, throughout the Philippines and between the Philippines and other countries and territories, wire and/or wireless telecommunications systems including, but not limited to, mobile, cellular, paging, fiber optics, multichannel multipoint distribution system (MMDS), local multipoint distribution system (LMDS), satellite transmit and receive systems, switches and their value-added services such as, but not limited to, transmission of voice, data, facsimile, control signs, audio and video, information services bureau and all other telecommunications systems technologies as are at present available or will be made available through technological advances or innovations in the future; and/or construct, acquire, lease and operate or manage transmitting and receiving stations, lines, cables or systems as in or are convenient or essential to efficiently carry out the purpose of this franchise.

Section 2. Manner of Operation of Stations or Facilities. - The stations or facilities of the grantee shall be constructed and operated in a manner as will, at most, result only in the minimum interference on the wavelengths or frequencies of existing stations or other stations which may be established by law, without in any way diminishing its own right to use its selected wavelengths or frequencies and the quality of transmission or reception thereon as should maximize rendition of the grantee's services and/or the availability thereof.

Section 3. Authority of the National Telecommunications Commission. - The grantee shall secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), hereinafter referred to as the Commission, a certificate of public convenience and necessity or the appropriate permits of its telecommunications systems/facilities. In issuing the certificate, the commission shall have the power to impose such conditions relative to the construction, operation, maintenance or service level of the telecommunications system. The Commission shall have the authority to regulate the construction and operation of its telecommunications systems. The grantee shall not use any frequency in the radio spectrum without having been authorized by the Commission. Such certificate shall state the areas covered and date the grantee shall commence the service. The Commission, however, shall not unreasonably withhold or delay the grant of any such authority, permits or licenses.

Section 4. Ingres and Egress. - For the purpose of erecting and maintaining poles or other supports for said wires or other conductors for the purpose of laying and maintaining underground wires, cable or other conductors, it shall be lawful for the grantee, its successors or assigns, with the prior approval of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), to make excavations or lay conduits in any of the public places, highways, streets, lanes, alleys, avenues, sidewalks or bridges of said provinces, cities and/or municipalities: Provided, however, That a public place, highway, street, lane, alley, avenue, sidewalks or bridge distributed, altered or changed by reason of erection of poles or other supports, or the underground laying of wires, other conductors or conduits, shall be repaired and replaced in workmanlike manner by said grantee, its successors or assigns, in accordance with the standards set by the DPWH. Should the grantee, its successors or assigns, after the ten (10) days notice from the said authority, fail, refuse or neglect to repair or replace any part of public place, road, highway, street, lane, alley, avenue, sidewalk or bridge altered, changed or distributed by the said grantee, its successors or assigns, then the DPWH shall have the right to have the same repaired and placed in good order and condition at double expense to be charged against the grantee, its successors or assigns.

Section 5. Responsibility to the Public. - The grantees shall conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and not use its stations/facilities for obscene or indecent transmission or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.

The grantee shall provide basic or enhanced telephone service in any municipality in the Philippines where it has an approved certificate of public convenience and necessity for the establishment, operation and maintenance of basic and/or enhanced local establishment, operation and maintenance of basic and/or enhanced local exchange service, without discrimination to any applicant therefore, in the order of the date of their applications, up to the limit of the capacity of its local telephone exchange, and should the demand for the telephone service at any time increase beyond the capacity thereof, the grantee shall increase the same to meet such demand: Provided, That in case the total demand to be satisfied by the expansion is less than the smallest viable local exchange available i the market as determined by the Commission, the grantee shall not be obliged to furnish such service unless the applicant for the telephone service defrays the actual expenses for the installation of the telecommunications apparatus necessary for such services and, in such case, the Commission may extend the time within which the grantee shall furnish such service.

The grantee shall operate and maintain all its stations, lines, cables, systems and equipment for the transmission and reception of messages, signals and pulses in a satisfactory manner at all times and, as far as economical and practicable, modify, improve or change such stations, lines, cables, systems and equipment to keep abreast with the advances in science and technology.

Section 6. Rate for Services. - The exchange and rates for telecommunications services of the grantee, except the rates and charges on those that may hereafter be declared or considered as nonregulated services, whether flat rates or measured rates or variation thereof, shall besubject to the approval of the Commission or its legal successor. The rates to be charged by the grantee shall be unbundled, separable and district among the services offered and shall be determined in such a manner that regulated services do not subsidize the unregulated ones.

Section 7. Right of Government. - A special right is hereby granted to the President of the Philippines, in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order, to temporarily take over and operate the stations, transmitters, facilities or equipment of the grantee, to temporarily suspend the operation of any station, transmitter, facility or equipment in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any agency of the government, upon due compensation to the grantee, for the use of said stations, transmitters, facilities or equipment during the period when they shall be so operated.

The radio spectrum is a finite resource that is part of the national patrimony and the use thereof is a privilege conferred upon the grantee by the State and may be withdrawn anytime after due process.

Section 8. Term of Franchise. - This franchise shall be for a term of twenty-five (25) years from the date of effectivity of this Act, unless sooner revoked or cancelled. This franchise shall be deemed ipso facto revoked in the event the grantee fails to comply with any of the following conditions:

(a) Commence operations within three (3) years from the approval of its operating permit by he NTC;

(b) Operate continuously for two (2) years; and

(c) Commence operations within five (5) years from the effectivity of this Act.

Section 9. Acceptance and Compliance. - Acceptance of this franchise shall be given in writing within sixty (60) days from the effetivity of this Act. Upon giving such acceptance, the grantee shall exercise the privileges granted under this Act. Nonacceptance shall render the franchise void.

Section 10. Bond. - The grantee shall file a bond issued in favor of the NTC, which shall determine the amount, to guarantee the compliance with and fulfillment of the conditions under which this franchise is granted. If, after five (5) years from the date of the approval of its permit by the Commission, the bond shall be canceled by the Commission. Otherwise, bond shall be forfeited in favor of the government and the franchise ipso facto revoked.

Section 11. Right of Interconnection. - The grantee is hereby authorized to connect or demand connections of its telecommunications systems installed, operated and maintained by any other duly authorized person or entity in the Philippines for the purpose of providing extended and improved telecommunications services to the public under such terms and conditions mutual agreed upon by the parties concerned, and the same shall be subject to the review and modifications of the Commission.

Section 12. Gross Receipts. - The grantee, its successors or assigns, shall keep a separate account of the gross receipts of the business transacted by it and shall furnish the Commission on Audit (COA) and the National Treasury a copy of such account not later the thirty-first (31 st) day of January of each for the preceding twelve (12 months).

Section 13. Books and Accounts. - The books and account s of the grantee, its successors or assigns, shall always be open to the inspection of the COA or its authorized representatives and it shall be the duty of the grantee to submit to the COA two (2) copies of the quarterly reports on the gross receipts, the net profits and the general conditions of the business.

Section 14. Warranty in Favor of National and Local Governments. - The grantee shall hold the national, provincial, city and municipal governments of the Philippines harmless from all claims, accounts, demands or actions arising out of accidents or injuries, whether to property or to persons, caused by the construction or operation of the stations, transmitters, facilities, and equipment of the grantee.

Section 15. Non transferability of Franchise. - The grantee hall not lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, sel nor assign his franchise or the rights and privileges acquired thereunder to any person, firm, company, corporation or other commercial or legal entity, nor merge with any other corporation or entity, nor shall the controlling interest of the grantee be transferred, whether as a whole or in parts and whether simultaneously or contemporaneously, to any such person, firm, company, corporation or entity without the prior approval of the Congress of the Philippines. Any person or entity to which this franchise is validly sold, transfered or assigned shall be subject to the same conditions, terms, restrictions ans limitations of this Act.

Section 16. District of Ownership. - In accordance with the constitutional provision to encourage public participation in public utilities, the grantees shall offer at least thirty per centum (30%) of its outstanding capital stock or higher percentage that may hereafter be provided by law in any securities exchange in the operations. Noncompliance therewith shall render the franchise ipso facto.

Section 17. Equality Clause. - Any advantage, favor, privilege, exemption or immunity granted under existing franchises for telecommunications system, or which mat hereafter be granted, shall ipso facto become part of this franchise and shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the herein grantee: Provided, however, That the foregoing shall neither apply to or affect provisions of telecommunications franchise concerning territory covered by the franchise, the life span of the franchise or the type of service authorized by the franchise.

Section 18. Reportorial Requirement. - The grantee shall submit an annual report to the Congress of the Philippines on its compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise and on as operations within sixty days (60) days from the end of every year.

Section 19. Separability Clause. - If any of the sections provisions of this Act is held invalid, all the other provisions nor affected thereby shall remain valid.

Section 20. Repealing and Non exclusivity Clause. - The franchise shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by the Congress of the Philippines when the public interest so required and shall not be interpreted as an exclusive grant of the privilege herein provide for.

Section 21. Effectivity Clause. - This Act shall take effect fifteen days (15) days from the date of its publication, upon the initiative of the grantee, in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

Approved,

JUAN PONCE ENRILE
President of the Senate
PROSPERO C. NOGRALES
Speaker of the House of Representatives

This Act which originated in the House of Representatives was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on May 20, 2008 and May 13, 2009, respectively.

EMMA LIRIO-REYES
Secretary of the Senate
MARILYN B. BARUA-YAP
Secretary General House of Representatives

Approved:

GLORIA MACAPAGAL - ARROYO
President of the Philippines

Lapsed into law on Aug. 08, 2009 without the signature of the President, in accordance with Article V.


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