Senator Win Gatchalian expresses support for the Bicameral Conference Committee’s adopted version to reduce the process of application for telecommunication companies to build more cell towers.
Gatchalian said trimming down permit requirements to only one, which is the building permit, will expedite the existing procedure to improve the country’s digital infrastructure.
“There’s a sense of urgency on the matter in this time of the pandemic. Everything is undergoing radical changes and everything has gone digital,” the senator emphasized.
According to earlier reports from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), it usually takes telecommunication companies eight months to secure permits to construct a cell site and another four months for construction.
Gatchalian cited the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) pronouncement that there used to be numerous documentary requirements and permits needed before a single tower is constructed, including barangay clearance, homeowners association resolution, Sangguniang bayan resolution, occupancy permit, certificate of noncoverage, zoning clearance, and a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) National Integrated Protected Areas System.
Gatchalian said Filipinos have been clamoring for improved telecommunication services especially during this pandemic where millions depend on internet connectivity for their daily activities.
The Philippines currently has 17,850 cell sites according to the 2019 3rd Quarter Report by TowerXChange, an informal network among advisors in the market tower industry worldwide. DICT officials had said that the country needs at least 50,000 additional cell towers to improve services.
“Importante na mapabilis natin ang pagkuha ng permit lalo na’t halos lahat ay nakadepende sa digital technology — edukasyon ng mga bata, trabaho, negosyo, ultimo ang lehislatura. Hindi natin kakayanin na mapag-iwanan lalo na sa ganitong panahon na may pandemya,” Gatchalian stressed.
The senator also underscored the need to ensure that the location would not compromise the safety of the communities before any cell site construction could proceed.
“Kailangang malaman natin kung saan ipapatayo ang cell towers at kung ligtas ba ang pagtatayuan ng mga ito. Baka naman nasa danger zone yung lugar at hindi angkop para sa isang tower. Dapat malaman din natin kung angkop ang mga ito sa ating batas,” he said.