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Interior Secretary Eduardo AƱo

Gov't vows to cut processing of telco infra permits to 20 days

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The processing period of permits for power infrastructure of telecommunications companies (telcos) will now be shortened to a maximum of 20 days, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Friday.

In a taped briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte aired over state-run PTV-4, Año said the joint memorandum circular (JMC) recently signed by several national government agencies would significantly remove ‘red tape’ in the processing of licenses and permits particularly in setting up common towers to improve connectivity.

"Wala na po 'yun (There is no such thing anymore). Sixteen days to 20 days po ang target para sa lahat ng permit (There is no such thing now as 16 days to 20 days is our target for all the permits)," Año said, referring to the usual eight-month period for the processing of permits for telco facilities, based on the clamor aired by telcos in a recent meeting with the President.

Usually, permission from homeowners’ association and the city or municipal council through a resolution is required before telcos can build towers.

Año also assured the local government units and other agencies would abide by the directive.

On Wednesday, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II supported President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the immediate improvement in the services of telcos, noting that common towers will help move the country towards “better internet quality and more extensive telecommunications service coverage”.

The common tower initiative, according to the DICT, is expected to stimulate the growth of independent tower companies, widening the base of common or shared towers in the country.

It said common towers will help cut back on expenses when compared to the costs of construction and maintenance of private towers.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte threatened the country’s two operating telcos to improve their services by December or face expropriation—the seizure of assets by the government for public use.

He also called on telcos, other concerned companies, and government agencies to implement measures to boost internet connectivity, promote electronic governance, utilize ICT for education, and toughen up the country’s cybersecurity. 

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