Inconsistent local rules continue to hinder network expansion and provision of essential telecommunication services despite the national government’s directive for local government units (LGUs) to fast-track the approval of permits to build more cell sites nationwide.
This was pointed out by local operator Globe Telecom as it cited a recent resolution of Barangay Plainview in Mandaluyong City that prohibits the construction and operation of cell sites within its territorial jurisdiction.
In a position paper sent to Mandaluyong City councilor Roehl B. Bacar, Globe maintained that the resolution passed by the Barangay Council of Plainview, Mandaluyong is against the law.
The company said it was granted by the Congress legislative authority in the form of a franchise to put up telecommunication stations, including cell sites. A cell site, it said, is a telecommunication station within the meaning of the legislative franchise granted to Globe by the national government.
“So, any barangay resolution or even a barangay ordinance or even an ordinance or resolution passed and approved by a local council higher than a barangay council that conflicts with the legislative franchise of Globe Telecom is void and without effect,” said Alejandro M. Gozon, Globe senior legal counsel and head of litigation.
“It is very unfortunate that there remain local government units that continue to deny their own communities fast and reliable connectivity at a time when people, businesses, and even government rely on the Internet for work, school, day-to-day needs, and the delivery of public services,” he added.
Globe said providing telecom services is not just an ordinary activity since it is imbued with public interest. While telecom services used to be conducted by the government, they have been delegated to the private sector in the form of legislative franchises.
“This is the reason why the business activities of telcos are impressed with a high degree of public interest. This is why we are classified as a public utility company,” Gozon explained.
Globe also cited Republic Act 7925 or the Philippine Telecommunication Policy Act of the Philippines and the 1987 Constitution, particularly Article II Section 24, which categorically states the recognition of the state, represented by the Republic of the Philippines, of the vital role of telecommunication and information technology in nation-building.
“We believe that the Internet is the great equalizer since it can dramatically improve the quality of a person’s life with just a click of a button. It is incumbent for both the public and private sectors to work together and give access to more Filipinos, especially during these times. We urge Barangay Plainview to reconsider its decision and allow us to be a partner in providing top-notch telecommunication services in the area,” Gozon stressed.