President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque on the sidelines of the 22nd Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on February 5, 2018. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang on Tuesday said the country had yet to experience improvements earlier promised by telecommunication companies after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to close them down in July.

“Sa aking eksperyensiya po, ang aking cellphone impossible pa rin,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a media briefing. “Hindi ka talaga maka-contact sa cellphone [kaya] ang ginagamit ko ngayon Viber or WhatsApp, iyong voice over internet protocol. “

“So sa tingin ko po wala pa ring malaking improvement—para nga pong wala pang improvement,” he added.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte told Smart and Globe to improve their services by December or face closure or have their facilities seized.

“If you are not ready to improve, I might just as well close all of you and we revert back to the line telephone at kukunin ko yan, ie-expropriate ko,” Duterte said.

“I’ll be straight. Smart pati itong Globe, ilang taon na ito? At ang sagot palagi sa akin, the party cannot be reached. E `di saan pala pumunta `yung yawa na iyon?” he continued.

On Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said 2,220 cell tower applications have been approved since Duterte’s remarks in July, while 712 were pending.

Duterte’s past tirades against the two telcos led to a government-sanctioned bidding which was won by Dito Telecommunity, composed of Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp, Chelsea Logistics Corporation and China Telecom.

Dito Telecommunity is set to launch in March 2021, aiming to challenge the telco duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom.

“So kinakailangan naman po talaga na makita natin ang pagbabago at kinakailangan talagang pumasok na iyong ating third telecoms player – ang Dito,” Roque said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro