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Regulators to speed up common tower permits

State regulators are fast-tracking the time required to get common tower permits from over 200 days to 16 days.

The turtle pace and the red tape for the grant of these permits had been the nightmare of local telco providers for decades.

“One key reason for our country’s slow deployment rate of telecommunication towers has been the red tape associated with its permitting requirements,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II reiterated.

Hence, the DICT, in coordination with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Department of Health (DOH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), signed a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) to cut the red tapes.

Specifically, the JMC streamlines requirements and reduces delays in securing permits, licenses, clearances, certificates, and other requirements for building Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures (PTTI), or common towers.

“The signing of the guidelines is a significant step in addressing the nation’s connectivity needs that have become more immediate because of the pandemic,” Honasan underscored.

“The deployment of common towers, particularly in unserved and underserved areas, will

improve not only internet condition, but also socio-economic welfare.”

The guidelines scrapped five pre-requisites for the construction of PTTIs.

These include: (a) Sangguniang Panlungsod/Bayan Resolution; (b) Sangguniang Barangay Resolution/ Barangay Council Resolution; (c) Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) or Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC), if the proposed site of construction is outside an environmentally critical area (ECA); (d) Radiation Safety Evaluation Report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and (e) Certified True Copy of NTC Provisional Authority (PA) or Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) or Certificate of Registration to Provide Telecommunication Services.

A Certificate of Use for PTTIs, which is easier to acquire, will now be issued by the Office of the Building Official instead of the Certificate of Occupancy, which demands more stringent standards.

A separate issuance for Locational Clearance guidelines is being drafted by the DHSUD in accordance with JMC provisions.

In addition, CAAP will no longer require a Height Clearance Permit (HCP) for PTTIs below fifty meters that are located outside of CAAP Critical Areas (CCA).

Instead, an Undertaking by a licensed Geodetic Engineer attesting that the PTTI will be built outside of CCA will be given for submission to the LGU.

As for processing timeline, the periods for the processing, approval and issuance of permits are required to be done within seven days.

Permits and clearances not approved within the prescribed periods shall be deemed automatically approved.

To avoid delays, the permitting process among NGAs and LGUs shall run parallel, with no permit from any office serving as a pre-requisite before other permits are processed and issued.

The DICT will be closely monitoring the permitting process as LGUs are required to inform the Department regarding the approval and disapproval of any building permit applications involving PTTIs.

LGUs are likewise prohibited from requiring documents or clearances other than those expressly enumerated under the JMC.

The JMC guidelines are part of ARTA’s National Effort for Harmonization of Efficiency Measures of Inter-related Agencies (NEHEMIA) project. Project NEHEMIA is a streamlining initiative to reduce the permitting time, costs, requirements and procedures by 52% in 52 weeks for the key sectors—including telecommunications.

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