DUE to poor internet connectivity, the 19th Davao City Council was forced to adjourn its regular session early on Tuesday, September 8.

City Council Majority Floor leader J. Melchor Quitain Jr. told SunStar Davao they decided to suspend and adjourn the session since the councilors, who are attending the session through video conferencing from home, cannot participate in the discussion if they will push through with the session.

"Kung pugson man gud, naay mga items nga basig naa pangutana ang mga konsehal, wala hinuon sila'y opprotunity makapangatuna. Pangit pud kay dili nindot ang discussion (If we decide to just go with the session, some councilors may not be able to participate. The discussions will not be fruitful)," Quitain said.

Since the City Council adopted video conferencing to its regular session due to the Covid-19 pandemic in late March this year, Quitain said this is the first time their session was interrupted by poor internet connection.

It also affected the live streaming of the session on the Sangguniang Panglusod ng Dabaw Facebook page. The council began live streaming its sessions in June this year.

Prior to the adjournment, Quitain said they were able to conduct the introductory prayer, singing of the national anthem, and roll call before the session was disrupted by the poor internet connectivity. All 25 city councilors were present during the roll call.

"Pagkahuman sa roll call, nangawala na ang mga image nila sa screen (After the roll call, they were disconnected)," Quitain said, adding they immediately motioned for a session recess to fix the technical glitches.

The attempt to fix the technical difficulties took around 30 to 45 minutes.

Quitain said the IT staff found no problem with the system. The IT staff found that there was no internet connection.

He said the technical staff of the City Council conducted a dry run before the start of the session and there were no problems with the internet during the dry run.

Quitain said one of the items they were supposed to tackle was the joint committee items of Councilor Jesus Joseph Zozobrado and Conrado Baluran adopting the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 1 series of 2020, in the city's current ordinances on the establishment of cell towers in the city.

The JMC, which was signed on July 23 by different national agencies, aims to curb red tape and corruption, as well as to streamline the processes for the issuance of permits, licenses and clearances, particularly with respect to shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure (PTTI).

Baluran filed a resolution to exclude the construction of cell towers in securing a three-fourth or majority vote for the endorsement of additional allowable use, as mandated under Ordinance 0546-14 Series of 3013 or the "Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Davao City."

This amendment would help further improve internet connectivity in the city.

Quitain said the council invited representatives from different telcos to discuss their position on the proposed amendment.

But because of what happened, he said they schedule it in the next session.

"Next week, didtoa namo i-discuss ngano ana ang sitwasyon sa atong internet diria sa siyudad (We will include it in the discussion next week why the city has a poor internet signal)," Quitain said, adding that the interrupted session is an additional eye-opener of the current situation.

Meanwhile, the councilor said only a few items were tackled in Tuesday's session. These include important items such as contract agreements between the City Government and other entities that need approval from the local body. The council would have still ended early even if there was no interruption in the internet signal.

With this, Quitain said the council will not call for a special session, hence, the items will be moved on the next regular session, which is on September 15.

Quitain said they hope the internet connectivity will improve in the next session.

Meanwhile, based on his personal assessment, Quitain said the council was already able to adapt to the practice of video conferencing, especially for those councilors who are part of the vulnerable sector.

Unless there is already a vaccine, he said the council will continue to hold sessions online via online meeting platforms.