Thursday, August 30, 2001

Fil Telco Watchdog Files Class Action Against Cellcos, NTC to Stop SMS Text Reduction

The Philippine League for Democratic Telecommunications, Inc. (PLDTI), a local telecommunications consumer watchdog organization, along with some individual complainants yesterday filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court a class action suit against cellular service companies Globe Telecoms GMCR (Globe), Smart Communications (Smart), Pilipino Telephone Company (Piltel), and Islacom as well as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO), and preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent the implementation of the above-mentioned cellular companies' plans to reduce their allocation of bundled SMS text messages per month to subscribers.

In its complaint, PLDTI alleges that the cellcos committed a breach of contract in unilaterally reducing their allocated number of text messages to subscribers per month after advertising a specific and certain amount of text message allocation much higher than they now intend to impose. Citing a number of legal provisions, the League showed how and why the cellcos involved have reneged on their own contracts to the detriment of millions of cellphone subscribers and users. It also argued that contrary to the term used by cellcos, such allocated text messages are not "free" at all, but bundled with the cost of monthly subscription or with each prepaid card.

Under Philippine law, the Court may grant a temporary restraining order for three days after a summary hearing on the controversy. The period may be extended for twenty days upon reception of evidence of the complainants and the respondents. Thereafter, after a continuous hearing and upon the posting of bond by the complainants in the amount that the Court may require, the Court may grant a preliminary injunction to last until the case is decided on the merits.

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