President Rodrigo Duterte. (Presidential photo)
MANILA – The supposed corruption in processing the requirements for the construction of new telecommunication towers has riled President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Duterte told his Cabinet on Thursday to take “drastic” steps against government offices, especially local government units (LGUs), which are behind the delay in the establishment of additional telecommunication towers in the country.
“It’s really corruption,” he said in a speech aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday morning. “Ang order ko sa Cabinet ngayon is to really take ‘yung pinakamabigat (My order to the Cabinet is to take) the most drastic measures that you can find para magkaintindihan na tayo (to address the issue).”
Duterte made the remarks after he summoned Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu to Malacañan on Thursday night.
The President’s meeting with Cu came three days after he warned that Globe Telecom, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc., the wireless arm of PLDT Inc., could face closure if the two telecommunications firms (telcos) fail to improve their services by yearend.
Cu told Duterte that the sluggish processing of permits for the construction of additional telecommunication towers in the country burdens his company.
“Ang 25 to 29 permit, umaabot ng walong buwan. Tapos marami pa ho kaming miscellaneous fees. Iba’t ibang klaseng tower fees. Meron kaming special use permit. Hindi ho namin ma-standardize (It takes eight months to process 25 or 29 permits. There are also miscellaneous fees, different towers fees, and special use permit. We could not standardize them),” he said.
Cu also lamented that the number of required documents hinders Globe from building more common towers.
“Hindi ho namin alam kung ano ang itutuloy eh sa dami ng permit na required para makarating kami sa stage na ready to build (We do not know how to proceed to the building stage because of the so many permits that are required to be submitted),” he said.
After hearing Cu’s concerns, Duterte encouraged telcos to issue a formal complaint against local officials who stall the processing of requirements for additional telecommunication towers.
He told telcos not to hesitate to inform the proper authorities.
“Isumbong lang ninyo, diretso (Just make a direct complaint),” Duterte said.
On July 23, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology led the signing of a joint memorandum circular (JMC) that aims to cut down the processing time of requirements for the construction of telco towers from an average of eight months to approximately 16 days across the different national government agencies and LGUs.
The JMC also seeks to reduce the required documents from 86 to 35.
ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica on Wednesday warned that those who fail to comply with the circular would be investigated and slapped with cases if need be. (PNA)