President Rodrigo Duterte, pissed off over poor internet service, warned telecommunication providers that they had until this December to improve their services or face the risk of “closure” or “expropriation,” Malacanang said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said telecommunication providers should submit a report on their new towers, following mounting complaints from their customers who always experience wifi or internet service interruptions.
Roque said he was still relying on internet applications to communicate and that there seemed to be "no improvement yet" on the service of duopoly PLDT and Globe Telecom.
According to the palace official, customers were not satisfied with the slow response of the three telecommunications providers, the PLDT and Globe.
“I am urging telcos, how will you repay the President with your request to fast-track the approval of telecom towers?” Roque said.
"I would like to invite both companies to submit to us the new towers that have been built. And I really want them to commit when they will improve their service,” he added.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 permits and clearances to build cell towers filed by telecommunications companies have been approved by local government units, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
In a briefing with President Duterte aired over state-run PTV-4 on Monday night, Año said a total 2,220 telecommunication permits have been approved to address the public clamor for improved telecommunications services, especially during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) where millions of people are working and studying from home.
The Palace official has coordinated with the regulatory body National Telecommunications Commission to order these companies to improve their service.
In July, Duterte told telecommunication companies to improve the services before December.
"Better have that line cleared...If you are not ready to improve, I might just as well close all of you and we revert back to the line telephone. I will take that expropriate to the government," the President earlier said.
Telcos should report to his Cabinet officials the local government units hampering the building of cell sites in the country, Duterte had said.
The President claimed Filipinos were not getting their money's worth in paying for the slow broadband services offered by telco firms.
"The eternal complaint ever since telco came into being, it has been the agony of the Filipino people, why until now, our telcos (services) are very poor," he said.
Duterte also urged local government units to fast track and lessen the permits of telcos building new cell towers for the improvement of Internet connection in the country.
“As for telcos, regarding your order to fast track the application for construction of towers, 2,220 permits were approved and we now only have 712 pending applications,” Año said.
Earlier, Año said the LGUs had complied with the order of Duterte to fast-track the process for the construction of cell towers to boost the telecommunication companies’ cellular and internet services.
He said the application process had been shortened to 16 days and the required permits were also cut down which made it for the telecommunication companies easier to comply.
Año said the telecommunication companies no longer had a reason for the delay in improving their capacities.
Telecommunications companies could now build critical information and communications technology infrastructures, including cell towers faster with the provisions of the Bayanihan 2.
Aside from temporarily suspending the requirement to secure voluminous permits and clearances, the law provides for the streamlining of regulatory processes and procedures to improve digital internet and satellite technology infrastructure.
Roque said earlier all pending and new applications for cell towers, cell sites, roll out of fiber ground, installation of poles, ground terminals, and other transmissions shall be approved or disapproved with a non-extendible period of seven days.
The Philippines has 17,850 cell sites according to the 2019 3rd Quarter Report by TowerXChange, an informal network advisor in the market tower industry worldwide.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology earlier said the country needs at least 50,000 more cell towers to improve services.