THE Regional Development Council (RDC) in Cordillera is looking at softening the bidding process for telecommunication companies (telco) to draw in more investments in the construction of infrastructures in the different parts of the region.
Former Baguio City mayor and RDC Infrastructure Development Vice Chairman Reinaldo Bautista Jr. explained the need to ease up procedures to allow more extension projects of existing telecommunications company investors that would help improve the telecommunications infrastructure in the region.
“We here in the Cordilleras realize that, geographically, it is very difficult to layout towers and cell sites and the infrastructure to really bring the coverage to every part of the region, which is definitely a challenge.
"However, DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), in their infrastructure report, only recently mentioned that while Baguio and Benguet are already highly covered with regards to internet infrastructure, many portions of the region are still in need of the coverage. The big problem, as presented to DICT, is not geographic location but more on the possible contractors or companies wanting to go that far and setting investments in a particular area,” Bautista said.
The Infrastructure Development vice chairman explained the failure of bidding for the possible entry of internet and telecommunication connections, particularly Republic Act 9184 or the procurement act that specifies a lot of limitations for many of those wanting to invest in certain parts of the region aside from the return of investment potentials of a telecommunications business to be established in a certain area.
Cordillera Interior and Local Governments Director Marlo Iringan reiterated the importance of Telcos to look for ways to provide better services to its clients in the region.
“It is really unfortunate, the sorry state of internet connection in the Cordillera and the sorry state of telecommunications infrastructure that we have in the country. It is very easy to blame government where there is a lot of paper works but I do believe this all boils down to the willingness of the telecommunications companies to really plow back in modernizing our infrastructure the profits that they have," he said.
"If we look at the profits of big companies, which is billions, for purposes of disclosure, how many of these billions go back to the services that they provide to their clients?” Iringan added.
The Interior and Local Governments director stated local governments were blamed because of the number of steps in the whole process of securing construction permits, which the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has required local government units (LGUs) to streamline their processes.
The DILG has requested different LGUs in the region to submit a list of telcos that have pending applications in their areas. The data gathered showed two to three pending permits.
“We have already been saying this that this should be part of the corporate responsibility of our telcos to build towers in areas which are scarcely populated, particularly, in the Vizcaya area through the Ambuclao Road.
"There are a lot of areas there with dead signals and there is a need for signals to be established because once you encounter a mechanical problem, you will have difficulty in having contact with relatives and friends. This should be looked at by our telecommunications companies,” the director said.
Cordillera Economic and Development Authority Director Milagros Rimando explained that in previous meetings with the two leading telecommunications companies in the country, a possible joint project has yet to be realized.
“The RDC held two meetings and discussed both with Globe and Smart our problem with our ICT infrastructure. Both meetings did not end with a clear answer to our concerns," she said.
"I remember that our six state universities and colleges have had a meeting with Smart and we were looking at the possibility of CSR or corporate social responsibility. They plainly told us that its CSR is for a small scale education project that does not apply in addressing problems that we have in our SUCs. This was one of the concerns that we presented to then DICT Secretary Rios when he was still at the helm. He said, because of having no market in the Cordillera, the region should be a priority for subsidized ICT,” Rimando added.