LGUs should have standard fees for common towers: solon

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Bohol Rep. Kristine Alexie Tutor has urged anew government agencies to recommend to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte the issuance of an executive order on “standardized fees that telcos shall pay to LGUs for common towers”.

Tutor said the standardized schedule of rates should “factor in current and future estimates of usage for telecom and Internet purposes.”

The lawmaker 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.

Tutor said, “meaningful usefulness of the Internet to Filipinos is limited because only a little over four 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 a faster execution of the common tower policy is needed now 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.”

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, adding that the agencies can cite the Ease of Doing Business Law (RA 11032) as legal bases for their collaboration.

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.

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

Tutor has also proposed the deployment of BGAN and VSAT equipment at strategically located campuses of public schools and state universities and colleges to augment the coverage of common telecommunications towers and other telecommunications facilities.

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