Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr assured the public on Thursday, December 10, that the Palace will continue to monitor the performance of the country’s telecommunication companies (telcos) even beyond the December deadline given by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to improve their services.
The Palace official noted the improvement in the services of the telcos since the President told them in July 2020 to make their services better. “Dumami ang construction permits na na-isyu. Dumami rin ang towers na naitayo. Mayroong mga improvements,” said Secretary Roque during a press briefing held in Malacañang.
However, the Palace spokesman expressed dismay on the Philippines’ ranking in the October 2020 Speedtest Global Index that ranked the country as number 34 in Asia in terms of mobile broadband speed. “Hindi po tayo masaya na tayo ay nasa gitna ng ranking,” remarked Secretary Roque.
Sec. Roque said that the Philippines should at least be at par with countries that are of similar qualities as the country in terms of economic development like Viet Nam and Thailand, which are ranked 18th and 16th, respectively.
The Cabinet official added that the Palace will continue to monitor the telcos because of the many complaints that the public has with regard to telcos’ services. “Hindi natin mararating ang world-class status kung may ganitong mga aberya sa mga serbisyong natuturing na basic sa sektor ng telekomunikasyon,” Sec. Roque said.
On the directive of the President for local government agencies (LGUs) to fast-track the issuance of permits to telcos, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica said that the ARTA has helped resolved the issues between LGUs and telcos with regard to the issuance of permits.
DG Belgica said that in their investigations, they found out that out of the 1,572 applications pending in 335 cities and municipalities, only 132 applications or 8 percent were identified with complete documentary requirements and payment of fees. To their defense, the telcos said that the pending applications were due to the delay in the release of order of payment.
Belgica said that after a series of hearing with the telcos and LGUs to resolve the said issues, the telcos started to complete their requirements and the LGUs issued the necessary order of payments. Belgica added that because of the streamlining that the ARTA required in the processing of permits, the number of permits required have decreased from 13 to 8, documentary permits were reduced from 86 to 35, and the time needed to complete the issuance of permits was reduced from 241 days to only 16 days.
These improvements in the processing of permits has resulted to the issuance of a total of 9,737 permits by LGUs to telcos from July to December 2020, which cover applications for both wired and wireless projects.
Moving forward, Belgica said that the ARTA plans to issue supplemental guidelines to LGUs to harmonize provisions of Bayanihan 2 and the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2020, continuously monitor NGAs’ and LGUs’ compliance on prescribed processing time for the issuance of permits and licenses, and to continue to assist and monitor telcos in their pending applications.
On another matter, in observance of the International Human Rights Day, Roque said that the national government is continuously coordinating with various agencies not just in the Philippines but also abroad and with United Nations bodies to strengthen the efficiency of the government’s police force to apprehend criminals and at the same time respect human rights.
Roque also underscored the improvements that have been done in the resolving of criminal cases, including close coordination between the fiscal and the police. “Kinakailangan po talaga mag-coordinate sila dahil importante na gabayan agad ng … mga piskal yung mga tinatawag na inquest fiscals lalong lalo na kung ano yung ebidensya na kinakailangan nila para maisampa ang kaso lalong lalo na kapag ang nalabag ay karapatang mabuhay,” Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO