Denying telcos from constructing cell sites should be a crime: official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2017 07:11 PM

A government official wants lawmakers to make it illegal for homeowners’ associations to deny entry to telecommunications companies that want to put up cellular towers inside subdivisions.

Telecommunications is not just a business but a national concern, so there must be a penalty for those who refuse to help the industry improve, said Secretary Rodolfo Salalima of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“Hopefully Congress will pass a law which says every subdivision who will not let telcos come in [to build a cell site] will be penalized criminally,” he said Friday, during a panel discussion at the Philippine Telecoms Summit in Pasay City.

Salalima stressed that public service “cannot be delayed” and it is mandated by the Constitution, so homeowners should not obstruct companies that want to improve communication services, especially if residents keep complaining about poor service.

In 2013, residents of a subdivision in Quezon City blocked the construction of a cell site because electromagnetic fields around it allegedly cause cancer.

However, this was denied by Salalima and telco executives, who cited resolutions by the health and justice departments that claim cell sites do not pose danger to nearby residents.

“If you don't let us build a cell site in your neighborhood, it's going to be hard to improve the cell reception in your community,” Mon Isberto, head of public affairs at PLDT Inc., said during the forum.

In 2013, Globe Telecom Inc. disguised a cell site it constructed in an exclusive village as a palm tree to soothe residents.