Maintaining the quality level of telecommunications in the Philippines

For years, telecommunications have become a crucial aspect of people’s lives. It satisfies people’s basic needs for social communication, entertainment and information dissemination. It has become more relevant as the modern world has gone digital. Eventually, families, businesses, and even government sectors began to depend on telecommunications.

With such a significant impact on society and its many industries, a particular body must oversee its operations, set standards, and launch initiatives to further its development.

In the Philippines, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) oversees all telecommunications services, including radio stations, telephone systems, cable companies, satellite TV providers, and Internet services.

The CNT has four mandates that dictate its functions. The first is to regulate the installation, operation and maintenance of radio stations for private and public use in accordance with the Radio Control Law, Law No. 3846 (as amended). It also regulates and supervises the provision of public telecommunications services pursuant to the Radiocommunications Control Act, Act No. 3846 (as amended and Public Telecommunications Policy Act 1995, RA No. 7925).

Another mandate of the NTC is radio spectrum management under the Radio Control Act, Act No. 3846 (as amended and Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995, RA No. 7925). The regulatory body is also responsible for regulating and supervising radio and television stations, cable television (CATV) and pay television (EO No. 546 and EO No. 205).

Simply, it aims to maintain a responsive regulatory environment for an efficient telecommunications/ICT sector.

Stay busy

Due to the immense number of telecommunications and other encompassing industries under NTC’s watch, it remains abuzz with effective plans and actions to manage its content or services and maintain quality standards.

Recently, the regulator has turned its attention to protecting national interests and security. It ordered internet service providers to block several websites, including independent media outlets, “found to be affiliated with and support terrorist and terrorist organizations”.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba signed the order at the request of National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon. The NTC eventually ordered the country’s internet service providers to block access to 26 websites “affiliated with and supporting” terrorists and designated terrorist groups Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines. (NDFP).

However, the list also includes websites of progressive groups and independent media such as Bulatlat. The outlet said the move “sets a dangerous precedent for independent journalism in the Philippines.”

CNT Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba

The NTC has also started to take action against scam messages prevalent in the country. Although it is still unclear how the people’s numbers were leaked to the scammers, the NTC is now advising telecom companies to send text messages to warn their customers against the messages and their possible consequences.

In 2021, an initiative that the CNT has continued to pursue until today revolves around gender and development. The regulatory agency launched a campaign to end violence against women, ultimately creating a safe space for all.

Among its main priorities is raising awareness of the dangers and consequences of child pornography. In its 2021 Achievement Report, the NTC has taken steps to strengthen its presence in policy meetings, forums and trainings with the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) and other related organizations.

The CNT also addressed the lack of a mechanism that deals directly with authors and the commercial process. He has coordinated with the PNP, NBI, IAACCP and even the public to tackle platforms involved in the recording and dissemination of sensitive content. Together they blocked 68 URLs and 10 other platforms to limit the spread of malicious media that endangers the well-being of children.

Since the NTC’s efforts fall under gender and development, the regulatory body has also highlighted the relevance of women through information, education and communication materials on specific programs and services aimed at promoting gender equality.

The NTC has managed to improve 16 Gender and Development spaces in its central and regional offices across the country.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the NTC supported the Ministry of Education to ensure continuity in the provision of quality education in the face of the global health risk.

Recognize freedom of information

Self-expression has become common in today’s society as people and other organizations have discovered new avenues to express their intentions. It also mandates government agencies and other related institutions to provide any necessary information to people who request it.

It coincides with Executive Order No. 02 or the Freedom of Information (FOI) Executive Order, which aims to promote open government by increasing the transparency of the executive branch and its agencies. It reinforces the right to information as enshrined in the constitution.

As a regulator, the NTC shares the access to information requirement. The NTC regularly complies with the FOI mandate, thus receiving recognition for its efforts. In 2020, NTC received the FOI plaque of recognition for being one of the most requested and successful agencies with over 500 requests and 90% closed transactions on the eFOI portal.

The 2020 recognition marks the third year in a row that the CNT has received such a prestigious award.

In addition to gaining recognition from the FOI for its performance, the NTC also obtained the 2020 Certificate of Compliance from the same organization for its cooperation with the enhanced requirements of the FOI. The regulatory agency also won the certificate in 2019 and 2018.

This year, the NTC celebrates 48 years of meeting the standard of quality and accessibility of telecommunications in the country to improve the lives of Filipinos. It continuously pursues its vision of becoming a world-class regulatory agency to meet the challenges of the digital world.

The late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., by Executive Order No. 546, established the regulatory agency in July 1979. Currently, NTC works closely with DOST-ASTI and DICT to improve government processes, provide better services to citizens and businesses and promote public participation.

As media, telecommunications and other related services continue to dominate society, the NTC remains vigilant in resolving issues threatening the quality of services within its mandate to maintain the quality of content and public services that Filipinos receive.

With its swift action, the NTC is one step closer to achieving its goal of becoming a world-class regulatory agency responding to the challenges of the digital world.