LGUs warned vs red tape on telco permits

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    Following President Duterte’s call on Monday for the incumbent telecommunication companies to improve their services, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) yesterday formed a special task force to monitor and strictly enforce the compliance of different national government agencies (NGAs) and local government agencies (LGUs) to the streamlined permitting process for building shared towers .

    ARTA in a statement said the special task force will ensure permit processing time will be completed within approximately 16 days across from the average 8 months processing time previously as contained in Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 01-2020 signed July 23.

    Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA director general, said the special task force under ARTA will monitor the compliance especially of LGUs which according to reports and information gathered, are notorious in imposing burdensome requirements and huge fees at various stages of the permitting process.

    “This can no longer be tolerated,” Belgica said and added if upon investigation ARTA finds that a particular government official or employee is causing the delay despite the clear provisions in the JMC, cases will be filed.

    The JMC is aimed at helping telecommunication firms fast-track the network build-out and further improve the mobile and internet services in the country.

    “We need at least 50,000 additional towers for the country in order to be competitive with (other) Asean (countries).

    The effective implementation of the provisions and streamlined processes of this JMC is the key that could free us from the turtle paced interconnectivity problem of the country,” said Belgica.

    ARTA shall be meeting with the different telco companies, tower companies, and other private stakeholders in the telecommunications industry in the coming days to further encourage partnership with the private sector in the battle against red tape in the telco industry.

    Section 15 of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 provides for a mere 7 working days processing time for all NGAs and LGUs involved in the telco tower construction permitting processes. Failure to act within the prescribed processing time automatically approves an application.

    Employees, including the head of the office or department may face six-month suspension for the first offense and a penalty of dismissal and imprisonment for the second offense if found to have been foot-dragging on an application.

    Under the JMC signed by ARTA and Department of Information Communication Technology along with the other government agencies, the previous numbers of documentary requirements required was reduced from 86 to just 35.

    ARTA will Globe Telecom in a statement on Monday said the long-drawn permitting process across local governments, homeowners associations and national agencies has hampered cellsite builds and laying down of fiber to homes.