SOME residents of Sitio Villa Manga in Bulacao Pardo, Cebu City are up in arms against the construction of a Dito telecommunication tower in their area, citing physical hazard, safety and national security reasons.
Dito telecommunication, the new and third major player in the country’s telecommunication industry, is a consortium between Davaobased business tycoon Dennis Uy and China Telecom. Known as Dito Telecommunity Corp., formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, the new telecom company has been granted a congressional franchise to operate and engage in the business of multi-media and information technology. It started operating last month.
In a position paper furnished to this columnist, Villa Manga, Bulacao Pardo residents are vehemently opposed to the proposed construction of Dito cell tower on the following grounds:
1) Villa Manga, Bulacao Pardo is already adequately served by two telcos, namely, PLDT and Globe, that use fiber optic and wireless technology without a cell tower in its vicinity and thus pose no danger to cellphone tower radiation.
2) The proposed Dito cellular tower is located at the heart of a residential area that is heavily populated and just a few meters away from the Bulacao Community School with a population of about 4,000 school children who are particularly vulnerable to cell tower radiation, namely the impairment of memory and learning, cancer, leukemia and the like.
3) The proposed cellphone tower must have a buffer zone of 500 meters away from a school, residence and hospital. The proposed Dito tower is situated right in the center of Villa Manga well within the 500-meter buffer zone.
4) Dito people are deluding the Filipinos that their cellphone tower using 5G technology is of no consequence to the health of the people. This is absolutely misleading as 247 EMF international scientists from 40 countries all around the world revealed in their study that cell tower radiation can increase cancer risk, cellular stress, increase harmful free radicals, genetic damages and structural and functional changes of reproductive systems. They also revealed that cell tower radiation produces harmful effects on both plants and animal life.
5) We are not opposed to modern technology, the petitioners said, but guidelines should be directly followed with respect to the location of a cellular tower. To the north of Villa Manga, not so distant away in a mountain area sparely populated, is an ideal location for a cell tower. If PLDT and Globe can adequately serve Villa Manga without cell tower in the vicinity of 500 meters radius, why can’t Dito do the same?
6) The oppositors also questioned Dito’s ownership, which is in consortium with the China Telecom, and they are afraid that once in full operation, its technology will be used for intelligence gathering and espionage purposes that may give advantage to the local communist movement, the Communist Party of the Philippines / New People’s Army and China’s move to conquer the West Philippine Sea.
Since last March, Dito has been in full operation in some parts of the country. The petitioners attached in their position paper the voluminous documents about some negative findings from experts and health articles on the negative impact on cellular tower operations and signatures of those who opposed.
According to the findings, continuous exposure to radiation will result in cancer, tumor, headache, fatigue, defects of the eye, dizziness, sleeping disorder, blood changes, reproductive and cardiovascular abnormalities, depression, irritability, memory impairment, and it poses greater risk especially to young children, pregnant woman and elderly.
They asked the Cebu City Government, which will issue the permit to construct, and the National Telecommunications Commission, which will issue the permit to operate, to hear their side before granting permits to the telecommunication company.
If we may recall, no less than the Department of the Interior and Local Government had warned local government units (LGUs) not to delay the issuance of permits for the construction of Dito cell towers in their respective LGUs or else they would face sanction. This memorandum is viewed as giving due advantage to the said telecommunication company as businessman Dennis Uy is close to President Rodrigo Duterte. He is one of those who bankrolled the candidacy of Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections.
But with the residents opposing the construction of the company’s cell tower, will the city officials also listen to their concern?
A similar case happened in Barangay Apas a few years ago. The residents also petitioned against two cellular towers already installed in their area for the same reason, prompting the other network to dismantle their tower while the other one is under litigation. Will the voice of the people be heard?