MANILA - Nearly 2,000 applications for permits of telco firms to build cell towers have been filed, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Monday, as the Philippines tries to fast-track construction of cell sites after President Rodrigo Duterte sought better connectivity services by the end of the year.
Año said in a public briefing aired late evening that 1,502 applications have been approved while 428 are pending in 8 areas.
"Sa lumang sistema, 241 days, 19 permits and 86 document requirments. Ngayon po sa ating bagong sistema...16 araw na lang. Sixteen days at walong permit na lang po ang kailangan, requiring 35 documents," he said.
Año said his office will regularly check on the pending applications next week until they are approved.
"At sisiguraduhin na dapat aprubahan. Kung hindi man, dapat malaman natin bakit hindi naaprubahan," he said.
After Duterte had threatened to shut down telcos if no improvements in internet connectivity are made by December, Globe Telecom President and CEO Ernest Cu revealed 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 by local government units, including tower fees and special use permits, Cu said.
The President reiterated his warning that he will go after local government officials if they are found guilty of hampering construction of cell sites in the country.
"Talagang ipahabol ko kayo. Walang pakiusapan," he said.
Earlier, the head of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said telcos with complete applications for building towers will be automatically approved if local government units or agencies of the national government fail to act within 7 days.