DILG: Over 1,500 cell site applications approved under simplified process

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — A total of 1,502 applications have been given the green light to build cellular sites across the country, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reported on Monday night.

Año added that out of the 1,930 pending applications, some 428 are still pending with the agency.

Around four telecommunications companies (telcos) applied for permits to build cell towers in 55 provinces and 25 cities in the country, Año said. Some of these companies are Globe Telecom, Smart Telecommunications, and Dito Telecommunity Corporation.

The Interior Secretary also emphasized the approved applications were made under the simplified procedures, made possible by a joint memorandum signed by concerned government agencies last July 22 to reduce the requirements for the building of “shared passive telecom tower infrastructure.”

The old application process took 241 days, 19 permits, and 86 documentary requirements before telcos received the approval to build a cell site. Now, Año said the process is streamlined to 16 days, eight permits, and 35 documents for submission.

Bibilis po ang ating proseso ng application sa mga telcos,” Año assured President Rodrigo Duterte during the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting.

[Translation: The application process will now be faster for the telcos.]

Duterte thanked the Interior Secretary for fast-tracking the cell site applications to further boost the country’s Internet connection services, as what he appealed to leading telco providers during his State of the Nation Address last July 27.

“Delay of 200 days is totally unacceptable to me. I am happy with what Secretary Año is doing here,” said the President, also warning not to further delay the approval of permits by telcos in building cell towers in communities.

During Duterte’s address last July 31, Globe Telecom president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu personally lamented to the IATF-EID that it takes about 28 to 30 permits and over eight months to build just one tower. Cu also complained of miscellaneous permits like tower fees and special use of permits that hindered them from building cell towers ahead of time.

Meanwhile, Año added in his report to the President there are 50 barangay captains in the country who will be placed under preventive suspension due to anomalies in the distribution of social amelioration program.

Among those barangay heads identified for preventive suspension, 13 are from National Capital Region, 13 are from Region 1, 10 are from Region 2, three are from Region 3, and 11 are from Region 4-A.

A total of 155 complaints were filed in the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group against barangay captains involved in malversation of funds, corruption, estafa, and other graft-related charges in giving out the emergency subsidy by the national government to the vulnerable sector.

The Ombudsman is now investigating the administrative aspect of the cases filed, Año guaranteed.