Pending permits for telco towers automatically approved

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    All pending applications for permits to construct cellular towers that have been pending beyond seven days will be automatically approved, according to Jeremiah Belgica, director-general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

    Belgica said approval by the local government council will no longer be required but previous applications that have not been acted upon within 20 days will also be declared by ARTA automatically approved.

    According to Belgica, a joint memorandum circular (JMC) will be signed to effect the automatic approval.

    He said officials found to have caused the delay in the approval of such permits will face charges.

    Belgica said these were relayed to tower companies and telecommunication companies Globe Telecoms Inc. and Smart Comunication in their meeting last August 4.

    He did not give estimates how many of the applications will be deemed approved.

    Belgica said the telco and tower companies were asked to give ARTA a list of their pending applications with national government agencies and local government units.

    ARTA will be directing the LGU or NGA to release the pertinent documents or permits to the private applicant

    Belgica said refusal to do so shall be a ground for the filing of an administrative case. If there will be illegal fixers and fixing involved, a criminal case shall be pursued as well.

    In the coming days, ARTA, the Departments of Information and Communication Technology and of the Interior and Local Government shall be meeting with the League of Provinces, Cities and Municipalities to further discuss with them the new JMC and the automatic approval of all pending applications for common towers with the different LGUs.

    A previous JMC signed July 23 drastically streamlined the permitting processes in the LGUs and NGAs for the interconnectivity sector.

    In declaring these applications automatically approved, According to Sec 15 of RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Service Act o 2018:

    “In order to expedite the processing of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations, the Authority, together with the DICT, shall develop a fast and reliable interconnectivity infrastructure.