Poe urges telcos to reveal corrupt regulators, officials blocking gov't permits

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2020 12:48 PM

Sen. Grace Poe speaks during a press briefing at the Senate of the Philippines in Pasay City on February 17, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senator Grace Poe urged telecommunications providers on Thursday to name government officials and regulators who are behind the slow processing of permits for the improvement of their services.

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said she hopes "whistleblowers" from telco firms would reveal who from the government hinder the improvement of connectivity services.

"Sana lumantad na ang mga whistleblower ng mga kompanya, instead na magreklamo sila na mabagal ang permit. Sabihin nila sa atin sino ba sa gobyerno ang umiipit sa kanila," Poe said in a virtual press briefing.

(I hope the whistleblowers of the companies will come out instead of just complaining that there is a slow processing of permits. Tell us who in the government is harassing them.)

"Alam ko hindi magiging madali 'yan dahil natatakot sila na baka mas lalo silang ipitin. Pero kung seryoso talaga ang ating gobyerno at ating Pangulo na mapabilis ang internet, alam kong hindi mapapabayaan ang hinaing ng ating mga kababayan na mabigyan na ng tamang serbisyo," she added.

(I know that won't be easy because they are afraid of more harassment. But if the government and our President is really serious in improving the internet connection, I know that the pleas of our countrymen for better service will be heard.)

Poe's call comes after President Rodrigo Duterte, during his fifth State of the Nation Address, said he would "close" all telecommunication providers and "expropriate" if services won't improve by December. 

The President warned the duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom to find a way to improve their services given the importance of connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic.

But more than just asking telco providers to improve their services, Poe said the President should also look into corruption in the government that also hinders the advancement of connectivity in the country.

"May mga iba sa local government leaders na nagsasabi na dito ninyo ipatayo ang cell tower sa lupa namin pero 'pag di niyo 'yan ginawa di namin kayo bibigyan ng permit," she said.

(There are some local government leaders who ask that cell towers be built on their land and then threaten the telco firms of non-issuance of permits.)

"Marami sa ating gobyerno na regulator ang hindi gumagawa ng tamang trabaho, ang corrupt, ang di nagbibigay ng permit on time," she added.

(Many among the regulators in the government are not doing their job well, are corrupt, and don't release permits on time.)