'Isumbong niyo': Duterte tells telcos to report LGUs obstructing permits

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2020 10:42 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2020 11:22 AM

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MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday telecommunications companies should report to his Cabinet officials the local government units hampering the building of cell sites in the country.

In a televised address, Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu told the President that it takes about 28 to 30 permits and over 8 months to build just one tower.

The permitting woes are on top of miscellaneous fees collected including tower fees and special use permits, Cu said, who was present in the briefing recorded late Thursday.

"Alam mo 'you can ask Bong (Senator Bong Go), or Sonny (Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III) or the generals, kay Sec. (Eduardo) Año. Isumbong niyo na lang ng diresto (you can report to them directly)," Duterte said.

"At ang order ko sa Cabinet ngayon is to really take the, ‘kung pinakamabigat, the most drastic measure that you can find, para magkaintindihan. This is my last mile," he added.

(My order to the Cabinet is to really take the heaviest, the most drastic measure that you can find, so you can arrive at an understanding)

In his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte threatened to shut or expropriate telcos if no improvements are made in December.

In jest, the President told Cu he would hang him in one of Globe Telecom's towers if no improvements would be made.

"I will hang you in one of your towers. Sabi niya (he said) 'Mayor, you cannot do that because there is no tower. The local governments are all f-----g it up,” Duterte said.

Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año said in the same briefing, that the target was to reduce time spent in producing permits to 16 to 20 days.

The administration has been pushing for the ease of doing business to shorten the permitting stage, including the construction of telco towers.

Both Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc have said they are ramping up spending to continue expansion plans and to improve services in the country.

Third telecommunications player DITO Telecommunity, mounting to challenge Globe and PLDT, is set to launch on March 2021.