Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Thursday, September 22, 2005

No tax exemption for PLDT-Bacolod

– SCThe Supreme Court (SC) upheld the decision of a Bacolod City court rejecting the claim of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Inc. (PLDT) that it is exempted from paying franchise and business taxes imposed by the local government.

Reiterating its ruling in "PLDT vs. City of Davao", the High Court in a decision penned by Associate Justice Cancio C. Garcia ruled that "Section 23 of RA 7925 (Public Telecommunications Policy Act) does not operate to exempt PLDT from the payment of franchise tax imposed upon it" by the government unit where it operates.

Part of the conditions of PLDT’s franchise provide that PLDT shall pay a franchise tax equivalent to three per cent of all its gross receipts "in lieu of all taxes."

However in January 1992 after the Local Government Code took effect, local government units were given the power to impose local franchise tax on businesses enjoying a franchise.
This provision in the LG Code effectively dissolved all tax exemption privileges including those taxes enjoyed by PLDT under the "in-lieu-of-all-taxes" clause in its charter.

When PLDT applied for a mayor’s permit, Bacolod City withheld issuance pending payment of PLDT’s franchise tax liability that amounted to P1,782,836.40 as of 1999 excluding surcharges.
PLDT filed a protest based on Section 23 of RA 7925 before the lower court. The petition was later dismissed.

In its ruling, the High Bench noted that there is nothing in the language of Sec 23 nor in the proceedings of both Houses of Congress when they enacted RA 7925 that it contemplated to grant tax exemptions to all telecommunications entities, including those whose exemptions had been withdrawn by the local government unit.

The exemption provided by Section 23 "does not refer to tax exemption but only to exemption from certain regulations and requirements imposed by the National Telecommunications Commission," the High Court explained. (Amor A. Lopez)

Globe warns subscribers against e-mail hoax

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

GLOBE Telecom warned its subscribers of a hoax spreading via forwarded e-mail messages, announcing that a group of people is able to access a subscribers' identification module (SIM) and make calls at the subscriber’s expense.
"We have conducted tests and results showed that it is not true that others can access your SIM card and make free calls just by pressing #90 or #09 on your mobile phone," Globe lawyer Froilan Castelo told INQ7.net.

He stressed that their GSM network is designed with stringent levels of built-in security. "With constant enhanced transmission protocols, GSM remains the most secure public wireless standard in the world," Castelo said.

The hoax e-mail comes with a subject: "Globe Telecom Warnings." It goes on to claim that it is a very important warning.

"Please note the following if you are using the mobile. If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying that, he or she is a company engineer, or telling that they're checking your mobile line, and you have to press # 90 or #09 or any other number, end this call immediately without pressing any numbers. There is a fraud[ulent] company using a device that, once you press #90 or #09, can access your SIM card and make calls at your expense. Forward this message to as many friends as you can, to stop it," the e-mail message reads.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Lawmaker, CICT propose e-budgeting project for gov't

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

WITH CONGRESS scheduled to scrutinize the proposed 1.05 trillion-peso national budget for 2006 this week, a lawmaker and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) have recently disclosed plans to modernize the way government agencies, the Palace, and lawmakers work on the national budget.

"Right now, the system is not transparent. We want to create an online information sharing system, where we're able to drill down on the budgets of each agency. So the budget hearings in Congress will only work on validating proposed budgets, saving us time," said George Kintanar, consultant to the House committee on information and communications technology.

The project will involve the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Computer Center, and private sector consultants, Kintanar said.

Meanwhile, House ICT committee chairman and Representative Simeon Kintanar is in discussions with DBM and other groups to study ways to shortcut the decision-making process, he said.

The e-budgeting project will develop a workflow management system, which will allow government agencies, the Palace, the DBM, and eventually Congress to work on the national budget before it is even presented to the lawmakers for approval.

This project will also allow the public to witness the whole process of creating a national budget since all information will be online, Kintanar said.

"This will allow people to know where the money is going," he said, noting that even the lawmakers will also have to disclose where their pork barrel is going in this proposed system.

Congress is set to begin hearings on the national budget come September 19, 2005. During these marathon hearings, each line agency is required to justify their budgets to lawmakers.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Solon weighs policies on gov't use of open source software

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva, INQ7.net

WILL Congress enact a law that will require Philippine government agencies to opt for open source software rather than proprietary software?

"I would be willing to consider a policy on open source [use in government]," Representative Simeon Kintanar told reporters last week in an interview, following a brief talk on open source software at a local Linux conference at the Dusit Nikko Hotel in Manila.

Kintanar said a stronger policy on open source software use in government will encourage more competition, which would likely lead to pressure vendors to lower the cost of proprietary software, as in the case in Thailand.

The lawmaker acknowledged that government is one of the biggest customers of software in the Philippines.

"We need to make e-governance happen so [government] needs to buy software," Kintanar added, stressing that the policy would also require proprietary software to be interoperable with open source software.

"So with such a policy, nobody is in control," the lawmaker said, noting that he is currently gathering more inputs from various sectors.

Kintanar is chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology.

During the Philippine Summit on Information Society at Manila Hotel last week, open source software advocate Robert Verzola suggested to the Commission on Information and Communications Technology that it come out with a policy that would make open source software the "default" software loaded onto computers purchased by government.

"This will save Philippine government millions," he added, noting that such a policy would not totally bar proprietary software from use by government agencies.

"On a case to case basis, government offices will need to justify their preference for commercial software," he said.

Reacting to Verzola's proposal, CICT Commissioner Emmanuel Lallana said that Philippine government should first develop its capability with open source software "before we mandate it."

Lallana said a government project known as "PC ng Bayan" is currently offering the Bayanihan Linux operating system, an open source package developed by the Advance Science and Technology Institute, to government agencies.

"I personally believe that it's not a viable alternative for us right now [to mandate open source software use in government]. For now, we will allow each agency to decide on this," he added.

In a separate interview, Microsoft officials told INQ7.net that it has a "government security program" that allows governments access to the source code of its software.

"We share code in different levels. It is indeed important to have a number of options, although we still don't share 100 percent of our source code," said Martin Gregory, Microsoft Australia platform value manager.

"We don't compete with open source. We compete with other commercial software," the Microsoft executive stressed.

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Sun Cellular awards P1.2-B expansion contract to Alcatel

A booming subscriber base has impelled Gokongwei-owned Sun Cellular to take an aggressive stance in expanding its network capacity through an expansion contract it recently awarded to Alcatel.

The 18-million Euro, roughly P1.2 billion, deal is expected to expand the GSM/GPRS mobile network capacity of the Sun Cellular, the mobile phone brand of Digitel Mobile Philippines.

In a statement released by Paris-based Alcatel, the contract covers the expansion of the network in Metro Manila as well as in Luzon and Cebu.

"Upon completion of the project in October 2005, Sun Cellular will benefit from additional capacity to accommodate as many as three million subscribers, a substantial increase over the number of customers it can support today," the statement said.

Under the deal, Alcatel will supply and install its Evolium GSM/GPRS and EDGE-ready solution, including mobile switching and solutions. Evolium is the mobile technology-focused joint venture company of Alcatel and Japan’s Fujitsu.

In addition, the statement said Alcatel is providing Sun Cellular with its new generation Home Location Register (ngHLR), a key element for future migration to a mobile Next Generation Network (mobile NGN) that supports advanced mobile services while reducing operation expenses.

"Given the subscriber growth we project and the demands of our customers for a quality service experience, we require a mobile network solution that is growable and delivers a consistently high level of performance," said Charles Lim, chief executive officer of Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc.

Alcatel’s partnering relationship with Sun Cellular dates back to 2001. Alcatel provided a turnkey solution to build the operator’s GSM/GPRS 1800 MHz network through phases of implementation spanning the past three years. —Melvin G. Calimag