‘Act on telcos’ permits within 3 days,’ Palace directs city, municipal councils

Local councils have been directed to act on the applications for permits by telecommunication companies (telcos) within three days, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, President Duterte has called on city and municipal councils to hasten the processing of business permits to help improve the telco services in the country.

"Panawagan sa lahat ng mga konseho sa buong Pilipinas, kung kayo naman ay hindi kasama sa MECQ, kinakailangan aktuhan ang mga applications ng mga telecoms companies at ibang kompanya within three days dahil mayroon tayong batas diyan yung anti-red tape law (To all councils in the entire Philippines, if you're not included in the MECQ, the applications of telecom companies and other companies must be acted upon within three days because we have an anti-red tape law)," Roque said during a televised press conference.

Roque said the President's latest pronouncement was connected with his earlier complaint about the need to improve the country's poor telecommunication services. He said the President has learned from Globe president Ernest Cu about the approval of permits for cell towers needed to enhance connectivity have been delayed at the local level.

"Naintindihan niya na isa sa problema ay yung tagal na pagbibigay ng permits para makatayo sila ng towers dahil may mga pagkakataon na kinakailangan ng resolution galing sa  mga councils --- municipal at city --- na hindi dumadating (He understands that one of the problems is the delay in the approval of the permits to built towers because there are times the resolution were needed to be passed by the city and municipal councils but never came),” he said.

In his televised public address Sunday, the President gave the local councils three days to act on the business permits or else face corruption charges. Duterte believed that any unwarranted delay in the processing of permits can only be caused by corruption.

He told the local councils to submit a report to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) about their compliance with his three-day deadline.

"The clock is ticking except on the days we do not hold office, I will count the 72 hours weekdays. Tapos for example if it has been there on Monday, then two to three days should be on Thursday," he said.

If the local councils fail to meet his deadline, Duterte said he would ask lawyer Danilo Yang, the new commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, to initiate charges against them.

"I’ll see to it that you are effectively suspended preventive --- suspended as a form of a punishment. But I would prefer that you would be dismissed immediately and the courts for not to interfere," he said.

In his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), 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.

The Globe executive explained to the President in a recent meeting that the processing of permits to build cell towers was taking so long at the local level. Getting 25 to 29 permits for one cell tower would take around eight months, according to Cu.

The President told the telcos to report to the Cabinet any unjustified delay in the processing of business permits.

In 2018, President Duterte has signed Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act to help make government transactions faster. The law requires government agencies to act on applications within three days for simple transactions, seven days for complex ones and 20 days for those which are classified as highly technical.