LGUs required to adopt unified application form

Local News Official
Local News OfficialSunStar Graphics

THE National Government has set the rules and regulations for streamlining of the process of issuing permits for the construction of telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

Some key provisions in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) include the issuance of a unified application form and the establishment of a one-stop shop for construction permits.

The IRR came four months after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order (EO) 32, or the “Streamlining the Permitting Process for the Construction of Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure.” Marcos made such a move last July to accelerate the country’s digital transformation by removing bureaucratic hurdles currently faced by telecommunications companies.

Ookla’s October 2023 report states that the Philippines ranked 82nd in the world for mobile and fixed broadband speeds. The median download speed was 28.28 Megabits per second (Mbps), with an upload speed of 6.77 Mbps. The latency, which indicates data transmission delay, was recorded at 22 milliseconds. Ookla, a company that provides data-driven insights on internet performance, is popular for its online application, Speedtest by Ookla.

The IRR issued by the government technical working group (TWG) mandates the adoption of a unified application, a preformatted form for building permit applications shall be prescribed in all cities and municipalities across the country, the Presidential Communications Office reported on Thursday, Nov. 30.

Telcos applying for a building permit are required to submit property documents, technical documents, height clearance permits, and homeowners association’s clearance, together with the unified application form, according to the IRR.

The IRR also requires a certificate of use and a business or mayor’s permit. To get these permits, applicants should submit the certificate of completion, construction logbook, photocopy of valid licenses, photograph of structure, yellow card/clearance from electrical service provider, and copy of As-Built Plan reflecting changes and modifications.

The IRR further sets the requirements for the erection of poles and construction of underground fiber ducts, cable layout on existing poles and other physical infrastructure, as well as the operation, repair and maintenance of passive telecommunications tower infrastructure, including distribution utility facilities.

The IRR also outlines the rules for obtaining clearances from government agencies and adoption of EO 32 by local government units.

It requires all LGUs to set up one-stop shop for construction permits, preferably at the Office of the Building Official. It prohibits anti-competitive activities and directs agencies and LGUs to implement a zero-backlog policy in all applications for permits and clearances covered under the order.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, then-President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to take over telecommunications companies if they failed to improve services. Globe Telecom president Ernest Cu said in response that the government red tape, or excessive procedures in getting building permits, was the culprit for the lack of cell sites.

Experts said internet speed and connectivity can improve with an increased number of cell towers in an area. The presence of more cell towers helps distribute the load of network traffic more efficiently.

In August this year, Globe Telecom reported that it will be building 542 new cell sites and upgrading 5,087 mobile sites to LTE across the country in the first half of 2023.

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