ARTA orders automatic approval of all pending telco applications

Published August 5, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it will declare automatic approval of all pending telco tower sector applications for government permits and transactions beyond 7 days.

“Sanggunian or Council approval should no longer be necessary under the new Joint Memorandum Circular but if there are previous applications that have not been acted upon within 20 days, that will also be declared by ARTA automatically approved by operation of law,” said ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica.

Belgica said cases will be filed against officials who failed to comply.

 During their meeting Tuesday with telco and tower companies, Belgica has asked these firms to submit to ARTA and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) a list of their pending applications and with which local government units or national government agencies so they could make these agencies immediately explain.  

With that, Belgica said, ARTA will be declaring pending applications with complete submissions as automatically approved by operation of law. The task force is still drafting the Joint Memorandum Curricular (JMC).

A joint task force of ARTA, DILG and the Department of Information, Communications and Technology is also being formed to include other possible administrative actions or even criminal cases that may be filed against erring officials.    

 ARTA has continued to implement measures to further ease of doing business in the country by mandating government agencies to streamline their processes.

On July, 2020, JMC 01-2020 was signed by ARTA-DICT-DILG-DOH-DPWH-DHSUD-CAAP-FDA to streamline the entire application process of the Telco Tower Construction Sector.

ARTA also issued Memorandum Circular 02-2020 last February addressed to all government agencies to apply the Automatic Approval of Pending Applications consistent with the Provisions of RA110322.

In that MC, ARTA said it will be conducting a Continuing Compliance Audit for all agencies starting March 7, 2020 or the 3-7-20 day.  Thus, the issues raised by the telco and tower companies relating to their pending applications with the different LGUs prior to the effectivity of the new JMC 01-2020 should no longer be an issue since the LGUs or NGA involved should have automatically approved their applications after 7 working days as stated in Section 15 of RA11032. 

“That is why during our meeting yesterday we requested the Telco and Tower Companies to furnish ARTA and DILG a list of their pending applications and with which LGU or NGA so we could make these agencies immediately explain,” explained Belgica.

Yesterday (August 5), ARTA signed the JMC with Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) implementing a mandatory online filing, processing and payment of port fees as part of the health protocols implemented by government agencies to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

These processes include online filing and processing of applications and payment of port charges, cargo handling charges, other cargo handling-related charges, permits and ancillary fees, and customs taxes and duties.

Belgica noted that despite the streamlining efforts of government agencies and private sector companies to create online permitting and payment systems, clients still need to physically go to port terminal offices for their transactions, resulting in health hazards to office personnel and the transacting public.

“Given the potential for the continued spread of COVID-19 and the importance of keeping the Philippine seaports open to foreign and domestic trade, there remains a need to drastically limit the movement of people to the offices located in the Ports of Manila area, prohibit the continuation of face-to-face transactions and migrate all port area transactions to online platforms, including payments,” the JMC stated.

Under the new guidelines, clients could now pay fees online through the accredited banks and payment channels of BOC, PPA, International Container Terminals Services Inc. (ICTSI), Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI), Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI).

The mandatory use of online platforms covers the processing and payment of import and export transactions, permits, clearances, gate passes at the ports, port fees, and cargo handling-related charges.

The newly-issued JMC also mandates gate passes to be processed electronically and printed offsite at the premises of the client. For general, break-bulk, bulk and/or other non-containerized cargoes, gate pass shall be issued only upon the actual loading of the cargoes in their respective trucks.

Under the new rules, the 192 BOC – Piers & Inspection Division (PID) will only validate those with  derogatory information after the container/shipment has been cleared by BOC but has not yet left the port.

The issuance of official receipts will also be done online through the issuance of a scanned or digital copy to the client through available messaging platforms. Clients may still opt to get a hard copy for legal purposes but shall be subject to a scheduled time.

ATI Executive Vice President William Khoury, ICTSI General Manager Christian Martin Gonzalez, and HCPTI Vice President for Corporate Affairs Mark Roy Boado concurred with the JMC initiative.