House reso proposes standard rates on LGU fees for common towers

A lawmaker has urged government agencies to recommend to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte the issuance of an executive order on “a standardized schedule of reasonable administrative and other regulatory fees LGUs shall pay to LGU hosts of the common towers.”

Bohol third district representative Kristine Alexie Tutor said the standardized schedule of rates of fees will “factor in current and future estimates of usage for telecom and Internet purposes.”

Tutor addressed her House Resolution No. 946 to the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Anti-Red Tape Authority, and Department of Interior and Local Government.

She asked the agencies to collaborate and engage in consultations with local government units to iron out the delays in the implementation of the common tower policy. She said the agencies can cite the Ease of Doing Business Law (RA 11032) as legal basis for collaboration.

Tutor said, “meaningful usefulness of the Internet to Filipinos is limited because only a little over 4 million subscribers have broadband Internet subscriptions at home, only 55%  have smartphones, and only a minority of 20 % have laptops or desktop computers at home, according to various studies and authoritative sources.”

She said faster execution of the common tower policy is needed because “the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Filipinos and other peoples of the world to, by necessity, self-quarantine at home to avoid getting infected , but continue to interact with family, friends, co-workers, and online communities through the use of the Internet to access cyberspace and social media.”

Tutor’s proposed HR 946 called upon the government agencies to address the difficulties in rolling out the common tower policy at the local government levels through direct consultations stakeholders in the provinces, cities, and towns.

She wants them to identify and publicly disclose the issues, concerns, background facts, and decisions at such LGU stakeholder consultations for transparency purposes, and issue joint memorandum addressing the solutions to issues raised in the LGU consultations.

Tutor also suggested the agencies set “performance standards which telecom firms and Internet service providers must meet in their provision of 4G and 5G level of access to mobile phone users and at least 30 to 40 Mbps Internet speed for households and higher ranges of Internet speed based on types of business and institutional clients.”

HR 946 also called for regular performance review and forensic audit, and exercise powers of visitorial inspections on the services telecom firms and Internet service providers render.

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