MANILA – More than 1,000 permits and clearances to build cell towers filed by telecommunications companies have been approved by local government units (LGUs), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
In a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte aired over state-run PTV-4 on Monday night, Año said a total of 1,171 telecommunication permits have already been approved to address the public clamor for improved telecommunications services, especially during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) where millions of people are working and studying from home.
“The world and the country have gone digital. Kailangan talaga natin itong (construction) ng mga towers because sa klase natin puro online classes. Last week, noong nag-usap tayo, 574 po ‘yung na-approve. Tumaas po ito, naging 1,171 this week. So ibig sabihin nadoble (We need to have this construction of towers because right now, our classes are mostly online. During our talk last week, 574 permits were approved. It increased to 1,171 this week. It means the number was doubled),” he told Duterte.
Año said the LGUs have complied with the order of Duterte to fast-track the process for the construction of cell towers to boost the telecommunication companies’ cellular and internet services.
“Ang natira na lang ay 428 applications, puro bago na ito. Ibig sabihin ay complying at very commendatory po ‘yung Manila LGU under Mayor (Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso). Kasi ginawa nila, one-time lahat talaga ay in-approve nila (There are only 428 pending applications. These are all new applications. This means the Manila LGU under Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso. They made a one-time approval of permit), so no more pending in Manila. So I hope all other LGUs will follow,” he added.
He said the application process had already been shortened to 16 days and the required permits were also cut down which made it for the telecommunication companies easier to comply.
Año said the telecommunication companies no longer have a reason for the delay in improving their capacities.
“A provision in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) provides for the automatic rollout of telcos in the construction of PTTIs or PassiveTelecom Tower Infrastructure. Except for building permits and night clearance permits, all other requirements were waived. Once these permits are complied with, this would be processed immediately,” he added.
Telecommunications companies could now build critical information and communications technology infrastructures, including cell towers faster with the provisions of the Bayanihan 2.
Aside from temporarily suspending the requirement to secure voluminous permits and clearances, the law provides for the streamlining of regulatory processes and procedures to improve digital internet and satellite technology infrastructure.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said all pending and new applications for cell towers, cell sites, roll out of fiber ground, installation of poles, ground terminals, and other transmissions shall be approved or disapproved with a non-extendible period of seven days.
Earlier, Duterte lamented the “very poor” services provided by telecommunication companies in the country, noting that it has been the “agony of the Filipino people” for several years.
The Philippines currently has 17,850 cell sites according to the 2019 3rd Quarter Report by TowerXChange, an informal network advisor in the market tower industry worldwide.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology earlier said the country needs at least 50,000 more cell towers to improve services. (PNA)