Have a heart telcos — Gordon

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — INDEPENDENT Senator Richard Gordon yesterday called on telecommunication companies to “consider the national interest” as he reiterated his appeal for them not to hold back on a portion of their “gargantuan” profits on text messages to boost education and health care.

“Our education and health sectors are ailing right now and we have been left behind by our neighbors.

“Thru the telcos’ active participation and sense of social responsibility, these sectors’ inherent defects can be remedied,” Gordon told mediamen at yesterday’s “No Holds Barred” forum at the National Press Club of the Philippines.

Gordon disclosed that by their own admission, the country’s telecom giants are collecting almost P2 billion per day in profit from text messages alone.

Under Gordon’s SB 2402 or the “Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), 10 percent of the telcos’ daily profits from text messaging would be set aside to finance the new program’s activities.

“I would like to emphasize that this is not another tax; it should be seen as the telcos’ commitment on corporate social responsibility,” Gordon said, adding he did not see the current charge of P1 per text increasing once the measure is approved.

Over the next five years, Gordon estimates the telcos’ contributions would reach P365 billion, which he noted, is more than enough to address the country’s backlog on classrooms while raising the salary and other benefits of public school teachers.

“At an average daily share of P200 million, this translates to P73 billion in just one year, which is enough money to put up the estimated 40,000 classroom backlogs all over the country overnight,” Gordon pointed out.

“HEAP shall be an independent government instrumentality… it shall finance programs aimed at rehabilitating and modernizing educational and health infrastructure, raise the quality of instruction and strengthen delivery of basic health services in public elementary and high schools nationwide,” Gordon said.

Additionally, Gordon pointed that his proposal is “not a form of tax, contrary to what other sectors are saying.”

“This is not tax; this is a form of ‘levy’ on the current rate, which is P1 per text,” Gordon said, adding he did not see the current charge increasing once the measure is approved.