DITO refutes P622-M fine for fraudulent calls

DITO Telecommunity has refuted the P622-million penalty slapped by Globe Telecom in relation to accusations of fraudulent calls originating from the former’s network.

“The truth is we can pay, but we didn’t cause this problem. These are fraudulent calls done by criminal syndicates,” DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said in a TV interview on Wednesday.

DITO countered allegations that it had only filed complaints against Globe Telecom and Smart Communications before the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to skirt away from paying penalty.

In addition, Tamano stressed they have put in place security systems to address the fraudulent calls.

Globe recently claimed that an average of 1,000 fraudulent calls—which have international origin but “masked as local calls”—daily pass through DITO’s network to Globe users. This was cited as a violation of their interconnection deal. Smart expressed the same concern, claiming such calls have resulted in “huge monetary loss.”

Interconnection deals allow users of different networks to call and send messages to each other.

The two telco giants flagged these issues soon after DITO lodged cases at the PCC against them for allegedly abusing their dominant position in the market. DITO claimed that only 20 percent to 30 percent of the calls made by DITO subscribers successfully patch through Globe and Smart users as it asked for more interconnection capacity. Otherwise, Tamano said this could limit the growth of DITO and lessen competition in the industry.

Amid the claims of fraudulent calls, Globe asked the National Telecommunications Commission to compel DITO to pay P622 million in penalty.

Tamano said that “P622 million seems big but, modesty aside, that’s not something that we cannot surmount if truly we were liable for that, which in our position is we are not.”

Smart strikes, too

Joining Globe’s call, Pangilinan-led telco player Smart also asked DITO to “clamp down” on subscribers making fraudulent calls before asking for extra capacity.

“[DITO] now attempts to avoid liability for these fraudulent international calls by filing a baseless complaint with the PCC accusing Smart of anticompetitive behavior,” Smart vice president for regulatory affairs Roy Ibay said in a statement.

“Smart reiterates its willingness to grant DITO’s request for capacity augmentation, provided that it signs an agreement to compensate Smart fairly in the event that such fraudulent calls continue to proliferate. Otherwise, Smart cannot allow its interconnection arrangement with DITO to perpetuate fraud,” Ibay said. Tamano said DITO continued to pursue the anti-competitive case to “to provide true competition in the telecom industry and to ensure that the Filipino people are given world class telco services that they rightfully deserve.”

PCC OIC-chair Johannes Bernabe, in a TV interview on Wednesday, said that if Globe and Smart were proven to be involved in anticompetitive practice, they would be asked to “rectify their behavior” and pay a penalty of up to P100 million each.

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