Globe, Smart told to stop blaming LGUs for epic failure

A HOUSE leader on Sunday said Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc.  should stop blaming all local government units (LGUs) for their epic failure to upgrade their poor and slow services.

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte   said telecommunication companies should act now with the assurance by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that there would no longer be any red tape in the processing of applications for the rollout of their cellsite towers.

Villafuerte said Smart and Globe have been unduly using all LGUs as scapegoats when the truth is these Telcos should be blamed for failing for years now to invest enough capital to improve their services to world-class standards, in disregard of the chronic complaints by their tens of millions of customers about their inferior, yet relatively costlier, services compared to those in many other countries.

"Their (Telcos) epic failure for years now in bringing up their services to world-class standards have been magnified at this time of
the coronavirus pandemic when superior Internet connectivity would have greatly aided national efforts to switch right away to digital technology and online transactions, in practice of physical distancing to avoid Covid-19 infection," Villafuerte said. "Back in 2017, I already called on these Telco giants to provide better services and filed House Bill (HB) No. 1299 seeking to give consumers a venue to air their complaints against these errant firms," Villafuerte.

The Camarines Sur lawmaker and former governor was referring to his proposal in the past Congress to  require the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to come up with a comprehensive and efficient system for subscribers to report their complaints of substandard services from their respective Telco providers.

Back in 2017, Villafuerte also called on the  Congress to legislate minimum quality standards for mobile telephone services that would
finally punish Telcos that are guilty of “horrendous” complaints by subscribers, such as poor network signals, overcharging, interrupted or dropped voice calls, vanishing prepaid loads and the surge of spam messages.

Rather than point their fingers at all LGUs—which these Telcos have been wont to do—Villafuerte said Globe and Smart executives should identify which LGUs have supposedly delayed the issuance of their permits to build more cellsite towers and other telecommunications infrastructure, which they have for years claimed to be the reason for their failure to improve fast enough their telecoms services.

"I challenge these  Telcos to submit their applications for tower rollouts in CamSur because I guarantee them that Governor  Migz
Villafuerte  will process their permits in an expeditious manner," said Villafuerte.

Moreover, Villafuerte questioned why Telcos continue to gripe about red tape when Republic Act (RA) No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Law of 2018, had amended the Anti-Red Tape Act precisely to, among others, provide the public and businesses with an effective mechanism to ensure prompt action on, or resolution of, their government transactions.

RA 11032, which Villafuerte had co-authored, slaps penalties on local officials for their respective LGUs' failure to act on applications
for permits or other official transactions within the specified time for processing such documents.

Villafuerte issued this statement as he expressed support for President Duterte's warning last week in his 5thState of the Nation Address (SONA) to "expropriate" their frequencies should they fail to improve their services by yearend.

President Duterte had warned Telcos in his SONA: "...if you are not ready to improve and ... I might just as well close all of you and we
revert back to the line telephone at kukunin ko yan, i-expropriate ko sa gobyerno."

After Mr. Duterte made this warning in his penultimate SONA, Villafuerte recalled that during last week's televised meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the President expressed his dissatisfaction anew with the inferior Telco services.