DILG assures telco firms of accelerated requirement processing

Published August 1, 2020, 2:33 PM

by Chito Chavez

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday assured telecommunication firms can now secure the necessary permits and other requirements for their operation in less than a month  — a marked improvement from the previous six to seven months — with the signing of the joint memorandum circular (JMC) involving various government agencies.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the DILG, the Anti-Red Tape Authority together with other national government agencies (NGAs), have agreed to streamline the documentary requirements and processing time for building permit applications on shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure also known as  common telecommunications towers through the agreement.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN)
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

He said the new requirements will do away with the resolutions from the homeowners’ associations, city and municipal resolutions and all other processes that delay the acquisition of the permits.

President Duterte in his fifth State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) last July 27 warned telecommunication firms they will be shut down in December if they do not improve the delivery of their services.

But Globe Telecom president Ernest Cu in a meeting with the President three days after the SONA complained that the lack of cell sites due to the red tape involved in securing the building permits is a major cause of the company’s poor services.

He noted a telecom company needs to get 28 to 30 permits for one cell tower with the process taking around eight months.

“There are different miscellaneous fees, different tower fees. We also have a special use permit. Those are not standardized. If we will apply for 5,000 permits, times 28 to 30 permits, how many thousands of permits will we get just to start?” Cu complained.

But with the joint memorandum circular (JMC) signed by the various agencies, Año said that “telecommunication companies such as Globe Telecom, PLDT/Smart Communications, and Dito Telecommunity Corp, the 3rd Telco player, can now address the public clamor for improved telecommunications services especially during the global pandemic where millions of people are working from home.” 

He added that the telecommunication companies can now “seize this opportunity to improve their services to the Filipino people, majority of whom rely on internet and telecommunication services in their daily life’’. 

“I hope they take this golden opportunity to further improve their service to the public,” he added.

Año explained that the JMC prescribes that LGUs and NGAs shall only require documents stipulated in the memorandum and are prohibited from requiring anything else from applicant network providers. 

He said that among the reduced requirements are: barangay clearance; documentary requirements for building permit applications on common towers such as Unified Application Form for Locational Permit, Fire Safety Evaluation Certificate, Building Permit, property documents (owners/authorized occupants of Registered/Untitled lands, authorized occupants of registered land), and select ancillary permit and accessory permits requirements. 

The DILG chief added that the LGUs must also adhere to the minimum processing time enforced in the JMC. 

“According to the memorandum, the prescribed processing time for construction-related permits for common towers shall be counted from the date the complete application was submitted to the concerned agency,” the DILG statement read.

Año said that in seven working days, “the  locational clearance, barangay clearance, Fire Safety Evaluation Certificate from the Bureau of Fire, and Building Permit shall be issued all together, exclusive of the period of appeals.’’ 

If the LGU is without a Comprehensive Land Use Plan and is unable to issue a Location Clearance, Año said that the applicant may secure said clearance from the regional office of the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) within seven days. 

“Height Clearance Certificate shall also be issued within seven days,’’ the DILG statement added.

Año noted the application for locational clearance, barangay clearance, Fire Safety Evaluation Certificate and building permit may continue without the need of a written consent from the home owners association or the condominium owner, among others.