Palace urges telcos to submit progress report, as Duterte deadline on better service looms

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 01 2020 02:35 PM | Updated as of Dec 01 2020 03:00 PM

Palace urges telcos to submit progress report, as Duterte deadline on better service looms 1
A cellular site tower in Caloocan City on Aug. 06, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday urged telecommunication providers to submit a report on their new towers, after President Rodrigo Duterte gave them until this December to improve their services or risk "closure" or "expropriation." 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that he was still relying on internet applications to communicate and that there seemed to be "no improvement yet" on the service of duopoly PLDT and Globe Telecom. 

"Hinihimok ko po ang ating telcos, ano naman po isusukli ninyo matapos kayong pagbigyan ng Presidente doon sa hinihingi ninyo na mapabilis ang approval ng mga telecom towers," he said in a media briefing. 

(I am urging telcos, how will you repay the President with your request to fast-track the approval of telecom towers.)

"I would like to invite both companies to submit to us iyong mga bagong towers na naitayo na nila. And I really want them to commit kung kailan sila magkakaroon ng mas mabuting serbisyo," he added. 

(I would like to invite both companies to submit to us the new towers they have built. And I really want them to commit when they would have improved service.)

Roque also told regulatory body National Telecommunications Commission to coordinate with his office on this. 

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Duterte in July told telcos to "improve the services before December." 

"I want to call Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, better have that line cleared...If you are not ready to improve, I might just as well close all of you and we revert back to the line telephone at kukunin ko yan (I will take that) expropriate ko sa gobyerno (to the government)," Duterte said in his 5th State of the Nation Address.

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, Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu earlier said. 

Telcos should report to his Cabinet officials the local government units hampering the building of cell sites in the country, Duterte had said. 

Third telecommunications player DITO Telecommunity, aiming to challenge the duopoly of Globe and PLDT, has enjoyed Duterte's support when he said there was "no corruption" in the consortium.

DITO is composed of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics with China Telecom. 

Uy is a long-time ally of the President while Beijing has had friendly bilateral relations with the Philippines under Duterte's administration. 

DITO committed to provide up to 27 mpbs or "near-Singapore" internet speed in its first year. 

"Kinakailangan naman po talaga na makita natin ang pagbabago, at kinakailangan pong pumasok na iyong ating third telecoms player, ang DITO," said Roque. 

(We really need to see change, and our third telecoms player, DITO, should enter the market.)