By Genalyn Kabiling
The government intends to allow telecommunication firms to install communication equipment, not only in military bases, but also police camps, municipalities and public schools.
In a bid to promote the delivery of fast and reliable access to the internet, President Duterte has approved the installation of telecommunication towers and facilities in these select government properties, according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
The proposed telco tower initiative was recommended to the President by Esperon to address the mobile network concerns in the country.
“Ang problema natin sa telecoms, we need about 50,000 towers but we only have 17,000. Why so? Because itong companies na ito nahihirapan silang kumuha ng location na bibigyan sila kaagad ng permit because they need something like 21 permits plus yung cost ng site. so kung ang problema natin yung sites at permits what are the solutions? [The problem with telecoms is we need about 50,000 towers but we only have 17,000. Why so? Because these companies are having difficulty getting permits for a location because they need something like 21 permits plus the cost of the site. So if our problem are the sites and permits, what are the solutions?],” Esperon said in an interview with reporters at the Palace last Friday.
“I offered and recommended to the President that we use military camps, police camps, munisipyos, barangays and schools,” he said.
Esperon highlighted the gains from the establishment of more telco towers and fiber lines such as facilitating fast and efficient telecommunication service across the country.
“Kung lahat ng munisipyo, lahat ng barangay malagyan mo ng tower, yung DICT na rin tumulong sa permit eh di bibilis ang communication nationwide di ba so i recommended that and the President approved it [If towers are installed in all municipalities and barangays, and the DICT helps with the permits, we will have faster communication nationwide so I recommended that and the President approved it],” he added.
Esperon made the remarks following the controversial agreement between the country’s third major telco DITO and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build facilities inside military camps in the country.
The preliminary agreement with the telco consortium of Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics with state-owned China Telecom has triggered concerns from some lawmakers and groups about the possible Chinese espionage compromising national security.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reportedly found nothing wrong with the military arrangement with the China-backed telco firm, adding a similar pact with two other local mobile firms have been previously forged.
Esperon meantime has allayed concerns about the potential national security risks such as surveillance from the presence of China-backed telco company inside the military camps. He assured the public that the government is capable of thwarting any electronic espionage.
“They could not get in at will. Kung mag-inspect sila, kailangan may permit pa rin so gwardyado yun at saka yung communications security ang nagpauso naman ‘yan military so alam ng military yan communication security [They could not get in at well. If they conduct an inspection, they need a permit so it is guarded. The military started communication so they know what to do with communication security],” he said.
“We know how to prevent backflow or unauthorized transmissions. Makikita natin yan so why don’t you allow it so all military camps will be connected and we have fast communications,” he said.
He also said the presence of telco towers in schools would also provide internet access to students and curb the need for the printing of books every year.
“Kung lahat ng eskwelahan mayroon internet hindi na kailangan gumwawa ng libro year in and year out. You have just to update your (software), your systems. Pag labas nila sa eskwelehan, laptop na. Eh di na-modernize tayo because of that. That’s one of the purpose of the national broadband network,” he said.