SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija -- Mayor Arvin C. Salonga yesterday defended local government units against claims of corruption made by telecommunication firms saying it was not their fault for causing undue delays in the processing of permits for the construction of new towers and cell sites in their locality.
"Hindi totoo iyang SOP-SOP na iyan, ang totoo wala silang mga requirements, hindi sila maka-comply sa sina-submit nitong mga Telcos," said Salonga, a former president of League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Nueva Ecija chapter, referring to SOP, a euphemism for bribery which has allegedly become a norm in building government projects.
The mayor asked why these Telcos were pinning the blame on the LGUs for their fault when it was not them but specifically, the Department of Public Works and Highways which provided for the construction protocols in these cell sites build-up through the adoption of the National Building Code of the Philippines.
"The LGUs' role in approving these cell sites or tower construction is purely ministerial in nature as we are bound by the provisions of the National Building Code, nothing more nothing less," said Salonga.
"We are only obeying the provisions set forth under the NBCP which stipulated the requirements in the processing of this application of tower permits of Telcos. Hindi ito dapat isisi sa LGUs, no finger-pointing dapat. Sumusunod lang kami sa NBCP," he added.
"Mag-comply lang ang mga Telcos sa mga requirements and within 24 hours ibibigay namin ang permit sa tower at cell sites nila," the mayor stressed.
Salonga also questioned the Telcos motives saying it was "bad faith" to still continue to sell more SIM cards amid the increasing number of subscribers and lack of tower sites in certain areas knowing that these towers have exceeded their capacity or experiencing weak signals.
"Hindi ba mas matindi ang corruption dahil iyung load mo kinakaen at hindi na kayang i-accommodate ng existing cell sites ang mga subscribers sa lugar, pati nga tanggap pa sila nang tanggap ng pagbenta ng SIM cards kahit na overloaded na ang tower capacity nila," Salonga said.
Municipal engineer Leonor Balcos said the LGU has been complying with the NBCP guidelines but the Telcos could not when it comes to the submission of requirements for the application of tower permits, causing the delay in its processing. "Kung hindi kumpleto ang requirements nila, hindi namin ito tinatanggap at ipo-proseso," she said.
Augusto Ortiz, municipal planning and development officer said the town which has a population of 80,000, has only six cell sites at present -- belonging to telecoms Globe, Smart, and Sun. He said no new towers have so far been put up yet since the existing ones were constructed some 10 to 15 years ago.