Gatchalian backs reduced telco cell site application process

Gatchalian backs reduced telco cell site application process

CELL TOWER. Senator Win Gatchalian presiding the hybrid session at the Senate early this month. Gatchalian said he supports the bicameral conference committee’s adopted version to reduce the process of application for telecommunication companies to build more cell towers. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS Win Gatchalian)

MANILA – 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,” he said.

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 the 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 advisor in the market tower industry worldwide.

The DICT officials had said 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 (It is important to expedite the process in getting permit especially now that almost everyone depends on digital technology — education, work, business, even legislature. We cannot afford to be left behind now that we have pandemic),” Gatchalian stressed.

He 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 (We have to know where cell towers will be built and whether the place is safe. It might be in the danger zone and not fit for cell tower. We have to know if it is in accordance with our law),” he said. (PR)

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