MANILA - More than 2,200 applications for permits of telco firms to build cell towers have been approved, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Monday, as the Philippines continues to fast-track construction of cell sites for better connectivity services by the end of the year.
Año said in a public briefing aired Monday night that 2,220 applications have been approved while 712 are pending.
The interior chief said his office will regularly check on the pending applications next week until they are approved.
The expediting of cell tower construction approvals stemmed from Globe Telecom President and CEO Ernest Cu's revelation last July that it takes about 28 to 30 permits and over 8 months to build just one tower due to local government units' requirements.
President Rodrigo Duterte warned in response that he will go after LGU officials if they are found guilty of hampering construction of cell sites in the country.
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.
Meanwhile, Año said 270 local government officials have been charged of criminal cases in connection to alleged anomalies in the distribution of emergency cash aid under government's social amelioration program (SAP) throughout the country during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 270, at least 30 cases are now proceeding in court, with 20 filed with the Ombudsman.
Año said 184 barangay chairpersons are facing administrative raps. Of the total, 57 are now undergoing court proceedings.
The Senate earlier found out that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had P75 billion left from its 2020 budget and some P6.7 billion from the SAP. It also has yet to spend some P1.5 billion from its 2019 budget.
The DSWD said it would fast-track the release of P83 billion worth of unused funds as millions of Filipinos contend with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and spate of typhoons that struck the country.