ARTA forms task force to monitor building of new telco towers

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) formed a special task force to monitor and strictly enforce the compliance of agencies, particularly of local government units (LGUs), tasked to drastically streamline the permitting process for construction of additional telecommunication towers.


This after President Rodrigo Duterte gave the telecommunication companies until December this year to improve their services.


“I call on our communication companies to improve their services lest we are forced to take drastic steps to address the less than ideal services that the public is getting from you,” Duterte said in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday


Duterte told the telcos not to make the public wait for “10 years” to experience the kind of service being enjoyed by other countries.


“Tell us now if you cannot really improve on it because I will work by December. I have two years. The next two years will be spent improving the telecommunications of this country without you. I will find a way. I will talk to Congress and find a way how to do it,” Duterte said.


ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica said the ARTA and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), under the National Effort on the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Interrelated Agencies (NEHEMIA) program, have been steadily coordinating and steering the different agencies together to come up with a streamlined framework for securing permits for the construction of telco towers.


“Accordingly, we need at least 50,000 additional towers for the country in order to be competitive with our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors,” Belgica said in a statement on Tuesday.


On July 23, the ARTA and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) led the signing of the joint memorandum circular (JMC) along with Department of the Interior and Local Government, Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Transportation-Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration, Department of Public Works and Highway-National Building Official.


The circular seeks to significantly cut down the processing time of requirements for the construction of telco towers from an average of eight months to approximately 16 days across the different national government agencies (NGAs) and LGUs. It also aims to reduce the required documents from 86 to just 35.


“The effective implementation of the provisions and streamlined processes of this JMC is the key that could free us from the turtle pace interconnectivity problem of the country,” Belgica said.


Belgica said the special task force under ARTA will monitor the compliance of the different government agencies with the provisions of the JMC, especially by the LGUs.


According to the reports and information gathered by ARTA, the LGUs are notorious in imposing burdensome requirements and huge fees at various stages of the permitting process.


Belgica said this has hindered numerous telco tower projects across the country.


“This can no longer be tolerated,” Belgica said, adding that cases will be filed if ARTA finds that a particular government official or employee is causing the delay despite the clear provisions in the JMC.


Section 15 of Republic Act 11032 or the “Ease of Doing Business and Government Service Delivery Act of 2018” provides for a mere seven working days processing time for all national government agencies and LGUs involved in the telco tower construction permitting processes.


“Failure to act within the prescribed processing time subjects a complete application to be automatically approved by law and exposes all involved employees, including the head of the office or department, to a possible six-month suspension for the first offense and a penalty of dismissal and imprisonment for the second offense,” it added.


In the coming days, ARTA shall be meeting with the different telco companies, tower companies, and other private stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to further encourage partnership with the private sector in the battle against red tape in the telco industry.


ARTA assures the private sector of its unwavering commitment in the ease of doing business. However, ARTA is asking for the help of the public to not engage in any corrupt practices, otherwise they too shall be penalized accordingly.


Source: Philippines News Agency

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