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DICT calls on House to pass law allowing cell sites in private villages

/ 10:17 AM June 24, 2017
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Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima speaks at the launch of his department’s three flagship programs on Friday.  PHOTO by Gianna Francesca Catolico/INQUIRER.net

Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima on Friday urged Congress to pass a legislation penalizing homeowners’ associations who will obstruct the government and telecommunications companies (telcos) from building cell sites within their subdivisions.

Last March, DICT drafted a measure to allow companies to construct cell sites inside private neighborhoods. Now that the government has completed the major blueprints to improve the country’s internet facilities, Salalima called on Rep. Victor Yap, chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology, to study his department’s proposed measure.

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“I implore Congressman Yap request his colleagues to pass a law or legislation stating that telecommunications is a basic human right and any board or association preventing telcos from entering the subdivision are, in fact, violating the rights of the residents of that subdivision to the basic human right to telecommunications,” Salalima said during the official launching of the DICT’s flagship programs in Manila on Friday.

“Better impose sanctions on these uncooperative Filipinos,” he added.

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The Philippines has only 16,300 cell sites, a far cry from the number of cell sites operating in Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.

“We have a problem in Metro Manila. A lot of places are without telecommunications services [that are] efficient and adequate,” Salalima said. “These complaints are coming from Metro Manila, coming from the subdivisions and ironically, these are the subdivisions which would not allow the telcos to build facilities in their subdivision.”

Subdivisions including the posh La Vista in Quezon City have opposed cell sites in their villages because they feared that radiation diffused by these facilities could cause cancer and other fatal diseases, a claim disproved by DICT.

READ: Gov’t launches nat’l broadband projects

In the same event, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) rolled out its national broadband plan (NBP), as well as plans for the national government portal (NGP) and the installment of free internet services across the country, especially in the remote provinces where internet access is scarce.

“Kailangan po natin ang (we need a) primary network from Luzon to Mindanao so that we could serve the government and people in the countryside,” Salalima expounded.

This year, DICT plans to team up with the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines to utilize the company’s fiber optic network for the NBP, which will cost between P77 billion and P200 billion.

To speed up government transactions and boost efficiency, the NGP will serve as a one-stop shop for online government services including the processing of drivers’ licenses, passports and business permits. Salalima urged government offices to transfer their data to the NGP.

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READ: DICT chief seeks EO to speed up data gathering for gov’t portal

In line with its third flagship program to install free internet access at public places in the country, DICT will offer WiFi services in government offices, public schools, train stations and transportation terminals nationwide.  /ra

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TAGS: Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), national broadband plan, national government portal, Rodolfo Salalima
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