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Drilon backs PBBM move to scrap unnecessary telco permits

July 9, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 183 views

Urges swift improvement of Internet services

A KNOWN staunch opposition, former Senate President Franklin M. Drilon expressed his full support for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s recent initiative to eliminate unnecessary permits for the construction, installation, repair, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure.

Drilon said that “these permits have been a major obstacle to the timely construction and improvement of telecommunication services in the country.”

Marcos’ Executive Order (EO) No. 32 aims to streamline the process for obtaining permits, licenses, and certificates necessary for the development of telecommunications and internet facilities.

“It has always been my position that we need to eliminate unnecessary permits for the telecommunications industry in order to improve internet accessibility in the Philippines. With a significant percentage of the population still unconnected, it is imperative to expedite the development of telco services and bridge the digital divide. The President’s Executive Order would in effect institutionalize a similar initiative that we have placed in Bayanihan three years ago,” Drilon said.

The former senator is confident that the EO will address the delays in the construction and improvement of telecommunication services in the Philippines.

“With EO 32, we can address this very complex process that hinders the country from being at par with our neighboring countries in terms of internet speed and connectivity,” Drilon said.

He cited the 2023 Ookla Speedtest Global Index where the Philippines only ranked fourth among its Southeast Asian neighbors, where the Philippines ranked fourth among its neighboring countries, with Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia taking the top spots.

Drilon notes a similar initiative which he introduced in the previous Bayanihan law that suspended various permits required for telcos to construct cell towers for a period of three years. The three year period ends in September this year. The Drilon amendment was intended to expedite the expansion of telecommunications networks.

“Like I said as early as three years ago, the internet has become a basic commodity. We granted a three-year reprieve to telcos to allow the building of more cell sites. DICT should report how many sites have been built since the suspension of permits in the Bayanihan 2 and identify any roadblocks that existed despite the suspension,” Drilon said.

According to the data Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), approximately 65% of Filipinos are still unconnected to the internet.

“This statistic underscores the pressing need to accelerate the development of telecommunications infrastructure and improve the delivery of telco services nationwide,” Drilon said.