HOMEOWNERS and residents of Doña Juliana Subdivision in Barangay Taculing, Bacolod City are opposing a cell site tower project of a telecommunications company.
In a petition signed by homeowners, they cited environmental and health concerns on the cell site tower of Dito Telecommunity, especially that the world is now under the threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
A homeowner in an interview with Sunstar-Bacolod said the property is owned by Barangay Kagawad Ian Ted Lacson and they were only told that he is constructing a swimming pool on his property, which used to be the only vacant lot on St. Therese Avenue, Doña Juliana Subdivision.
The homeowners said they have been holding prayer rallies for the concerned officials to hear their concerns against the cell site tower.
"A cell-site tower at the center of residential houses. The construction site is a residential area in an empty lot along St. Therese Avenue that is already fully occupied with residential houses. This project will be a health hazard when we are now fighting Covid-19 and with this project, we will be exposed to another health hazard," the homeowners said in their petition addressed to Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia.
"We understand the project will be implemented even without the consent of the affected residents, as well as the local barangay because of the President's Circular, so we are bringing this matter to your attention," the residents added.
On February 4, 2020, the Office of the Building Official issued a Notice of Illegal Construction and advised Dito Telecommunity Corp. to stop the construction activities at the said site.
On February 3, Zoning Officer II Francis Arañez of the Bacolod City Planning and Development Office in his Summary Findings after the inspection stated that Doña Juliana has a Zoning Classification of residential use and that as per office records, there was no apparent request or pending application for a locational clearance or an approved one in the matter of the submitted complaint about the above-mentioned site.
When asked for the status of the said cell site, Punong Barangay Lady Gles Gonzales said they just follow orders by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Anti-Red Tape Authority.
The two agencies with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Department of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration signed on July 23, 2020, a Joint Memorandum Circular streamlining requirements and reducing procedural delays in securing necessary permits, licenses, clearances, certificates and other requirements in constructing Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures or common towers—reducing processing time from more than 200 days to around 16 days.
Gonzales said they only issued barangay clearance and the Barangay Council did not even issue a Resolution of No Objection.
She confirmed that Dito Telecom through its subcontractor ZTE Corp. had promised to stop the construction.
The construction of the tower is almost finished.
Dito Telecom and ZTE could not be reached for comment as of Monday evening.