The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said that pending applications for cellular towers of all telecommunications companies are deemed approved if they are left pending for more than seven days.
ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica made the statement after President Duterte on Friday gave local government units (LGUs) three working days to act on cell tower applications when Globe Telecom President Ernest Cu relayed to him their plight on applications.
In a statement, Belgica said all of the pending applications by the telco companies and tower companies with the LGUs and national government agencies (NGAs) are already deemed approved by operation of law after seven working days from the complete submission and payment of all pertinent fees.
Belgica was citing Section 15 of the Ease of Doing Business Act which stated that ARTA, together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) shall develop a fast and reliable interconnectivity infrastructure in order to expedite the processing of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations.
Under the said law, the processing and approval or licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations for the installation and operation of telecommunication, broadcast towers, facilities, equipment, and service shall be:
- A total of seven (7) working days for those issued by the barangay
- A total of seven (7) working days for those issued by LGUs
- Seven (7) working days for those issued by NGA
If the granting authority fails to approve or disapprove an application within the prescribed processing time, said application shall be deemed approved provided that a period of 20 days is prescribed if the approval of the appropriate local legislative body is necessary.
Belgica said this was why they required Globe, Smart, and other telco and tower companies to furnish ARTA a list of all their pending applications with any LGUs or NGAs.
“If the application has been pending more than seven days with any LGUs or NGAs, this will be declared by ARTA as automatically approved,” he said.
At the same time, Belgica said the ARTA will be directing the LGU or NGA to release the pertinent documents or permits to the private applicant.
“Refusal to do so shall be a ground for the filing of an Administrative Case,” he said.
“If there will be illegal fixers and fixing involved then a Criminal Case shall be pursued as well,” he added.
ARTA on Wednesday had a consultation meeting with telco and tower companies “for the realization of the President’s directive for faster internet connectivity by December 2020.”
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month, President Duterte warned telcos to improve their services by December or he will shut them down.
Cu had told Duterte that it would take telco companies 28 to 30 permits to put up a cell tower and the entire process took around eight months.