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Slow PH Internet linked to red tape

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson yesterday linked graft-ridden barriers that telecommunications companies have to go through before day could put up a cell site to the slow Internet speed in the country.

Lacson, speaking at a Senate Public Services Committee hearing on the traffic emergency powers for President Duterte, said a barangay tanod or watchman has to be gifted with a bottle of Johnny Walker scotch before a telecommunications cell site could be approved. He also revealed that it needs one year to have just for one permit to be obtained.

Lacson said because of these barriers, the Philippines has failed to construct more cell sites and has lost to Laos and Vietnam in the availability of cell sites and the speed of its Internet service.

Lacson proposed deadlines in the approval of permits and renewals. He said that regardless of how many of the current 25 signatures needed to get a permit to put up a cell site could be reduced, graft would still be complained of unless actions and approvals of permits and renewals are given deadlines.

He said he would introduce an amendment to a current law he had authored whereby applications for permits or renewals, like a building permit, applied before a mayor are deemed approved after five to 10 days.

During the hearing, Poe, penal chairperson, said R500,000 to R1 million in bribe is needed to be forked over by a telecommunications company for the construction of a cell site.

After talking to some officials of Globe Telecommunications, one of the country’s biggest telecommunications companies, the situation on the ground is that there is a lot of graft money or favors to be given from mayors down to councils, Lacson said.

Poe stressed the need for ICT-based solutions to address the current traffic crisis.

“We want to include the obtaining of permits for cell towers to be part of the emergency powers so we have faster Internet and clearer cell service,’’ Poe said as she terminated her committee hearing on the emergency powers bill.

Such powers would hopefully reduce red tapes at LGUs, she added. (Mario B. Casayuran)