ONLY 122 out of over 1,500 applications for cellular towers had complete requirements and the resulting delays were not due to inaction by local government units (LGUs), according to the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

In a Laging Handa briefing Thursday, ARTA Director General Jeremiah B. Belgica said companies should be “fair” when accusing LGUs of sitting on their applications, when their own compliance may be lacking in terms of documentary requirements and payment.

Nagbigay ng listahan ng telcos sa atin ng 1,571 applications na submissions according sa kanila. Noong ating ito sinuri, ang lumabas ay 122 lang sa mga list nila na pending na kumpleto na at bayad. Kaya kailangan maging fair sila minsan na mabagal ang mga LGUs (The telcos gave us a list of 1,571 applications that have been filed. When we evaluated them, what came out is only 122 on that pending list had complete documents and were paid up. We need to be fair sometimes with LGUs that are slow),” he said.

The 122 completed applications are from across 44 LGUs. He said that the ARTA has sent 55 orders to the LGUs to submit compliance reports, receiving 21 reports so far. The submitted reports cover 47 applications in total, with seven applications deemed qualified for automatic approval, based on the processing times prescribed by the Ease of Doing Business Law.

Mr. Beligica said starting next week, ARTA will be holding a summary hearing to address the claims and counter-claims of LGUs and the telecommunication companies regarding these applications before issuing certificates of automatic approval.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte warned LGUs earlier this month over delays in the application process for cell towers and ordered the streamlining of the application process. He also called on telecommunication companies to improve signal and connection especially when reliance on their services is high during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. — Gillian M. Cortez