/ 13 August 2020

SENATOR Grace Poe reiterated her call to telecommunication companies to build more cellular towers to meet increasing network traffic as public and private operations and transactions have shifted online.

Poe stressed that with the advent of online learning this coming academic year due to the health crisis, efficient connectivity is a must for millions of students and educators.

“Umaasa ang ating mga kababayan ng malakas at tuloy-tuloy na signal at internet sa gitna ng pandemya,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee.

Poe said she expects telecommunication companies to fast-track the construction of cell sites across the country with the whole-of-government backing and streamlining of permitting processes.

“The lengthy permit application and uncooperative stakeholders will be a thing of the past. The government has laid the groundwork for fostering system innovation, and we hope telcos will take advantage of this to make significant strides in giving the public quality mobile and internet experience,” she stressed.

Poe also reminded national and local government units to strictly follow the processing time for approval of applications for licenses and permits under the Ease of Doing Business Act.

Under the law, heads of government agencies are primarily responsible for its implementation and shall be held accountable to the public in rendering fast, efficient, convenient and reliable service.

Failure to strictly comply with the law may render them liable criminally and administratively.

In the case of LGUs, the Department of the Interior and Local Government may, on its own initiative or upon complaint, commence investigation and if warranted by the evidence, file a case with the Ombudsman.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority created under the Ease of Doing Business Act may also do the same.

Sec. 22 of the Ease of Doing Business Act provides that officials found to have violated the law will be charged administratively with a corresponding six-month suspension for their first offense.

On the second offense, persons found guilty will be administratively and criminally liable, which includes dismissal from the service, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, and forfeiture of retirement benefits and imprisonment of one year to six years with a fine of up to P2 million.

Officials who commit the crime through collusion with fixers, even on their first offense, will also be penalized in the same manner.

“We look forward to the day when the government and the private sector can work hand in hand to guarantee swift and dependable public service-beyond self-interest and profit-to uplift the lives of our people,” Poe further said.