Duterte threatens to ‘hang’ telco CEO;‘18-20 days for issuing telco tower permits,’ says Año

President Duterte has jokingly threatened to hang a telecommunication executive from one of the company's towers if his company would not improve its services.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 30, 2020.( ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The President was addressing Globe Telecom, Inc. president and CEO Ernest Cu who was present in his meeting with some Cabinet members on the government's pandemic response Thursday. 

The Globe executive however seized the opportunity to explain to the President the "suffering" endured by the telecommunication companies (telcos) in securing too many permits to build cell towers needed to improve connectivity.

"Si Ernest 'yan siya, Ernest ang tawag namin, Cu, sa presidente ng Globe. Siya mismo. Kasi sabi ko 'pag hindi mo pa na-improve 'yan, I will hang you on one of your towers (That's Ernest Cu, the president of Globe. I told him if you don't improve the service, I will hang you on one  of your towers)," the President said in jest.

"Sabi niya 'Mayor, you cannot do that because there is no tower. The local governments are all f*cking  it up, that's why. So saan mo ako bitayin? Sa lubi (coconut tree)?' Sabi ko, 'Tama ka, Erns' [Where you hang me? In the coconut tree? I said, you're right Erns)," he said.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, the President warned Globe Telecom and Smart Communications to improve their services by December or else face expropriation.  Duterte has criticized the telcos for their "lousy" service to the public, threatening to close them down if improvements are not made.

In the meeting, the President urged the telcos to report to his Cabinet the officials delaying the processing of the permits necessary for the cell sites.

"It's really corruption," Duterte said during his remarks aired on state television Friday.

Duterte said he has directed the Cabinet to "take the most drastic measure that you can find para magkaintindihan na tayo (so we can understand each other.” "This is my last mile. I make no apologies about it kung ano ang nagawa ko o anong mali ko. Basta ako magtrabaho lang (about what I did or did wrong. I will just work)," he added.

Cu told the President that they have been "suffering for many, many years" before his administration about the cumbersome process of securing government permits for cell sites. He claimed that getting 25 to 29 permits for one cell tower would take around eight months.

"Tapos marami pa ho kaming mga miscellaneous fees ho, iba-ibang klaseng tower fee, mayroon kaming special use permit. Hindi ho namin ma-standardize ho 'yan (And then we have miscellaneous fees, different tower fees, we have a different special use permit. That has not been standardized yet),” the telco official said.

"Kung nag-apply kami ng 5,000 towers times 28 or 30 permits na lang, ilang libo hong permit ang kukunin namin para lang makapag-umpisa (If we apply for 5,000 towers times 28 or 30 permits, how many permits will we get just to start)," he said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said an agreement among concerned government agencies has been signed to reduce the process of securing permits for building telco towers.

Año, who was present in the meeting, said the requirements for resolution from the homeowners association and Sanguniang Bayan resolution have been removed.

"Sixteen to 20 days na lang para lahat ng permit ay tatakbo (It will take 16 to 20 days for the permits to move)," he said.