The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta) urged President Marcos to issue an executive order to speed up the permitting process for internet infrastructure after he complained of inadequate connectivity for Filipinos.
In a statement, the Arta and PSAC said the executive order would "institutionalize" previously issued joint memorandum circulars (JMCs) that would be expiring next year.
The Arta and PSAC said an executive fiat would strengthen the effect of Arta Telecommunications Sector initiatives that took effect through the JMCs, which have led to the faster issuance of permits. The JMCs cut the permitting process to 16 working days from the previous 241 days, among others.
"Since the implementation of the JMCs last July 2020, the nation has seen significant improvement in the number of telco permits approved," the statement read.
"It has proven effective in curtailing government red tape and in accelerating the delivery of telecommunications and internet services," it added.
"Instead of amplifying preexisting inequalities, the internet and the digital world are valuable assets that all should be able to take advantage of. Infrastructure is the key to making that digital world accessible to every Filipino, across islands, mountains, and streams," the statement read.
Coverage below 70%
The President was the keynote speaker at the Telco Summit 2022 last Tuesday, where he lamented over the state of the country's digital connectivity, which was below 70 percent.
"That's not good enough, especially for an archipelagic country such as ours where connectivity is exceedingly important because we have many isolated communities who need some form of contact, some form of communication with the rest of the country, with the rest of the world," Mr. Marcos said.
Internet services are unreliable or nonexistent for Filipinos living in far-flung areas.
In a recent television interview, Dennis Anthony Uy of fiber internet giant Converge ICT Solutions proposed a mix of broadband satellites, fiber lines and traditional telecommunications services to cover 100 percent of the country in two years.
Billionaire Henry Sy Jr. is among those joining the broadband race as he recently teamed up with American tech mogul Elon Musk to bring the latter's Starlink satellite internet service to the Philippines.
—Miguel R. Camus
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