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The government has accelerated the permitting process for telecommunications and internet infrastructure projects in the Philippines with the release of implementing rules and regulations.

The joint memorandum circular, detailing these regulations, was issued by a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of five government agencies.

It is responsible for establishing guidelines to streamline the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates. These shall facilitate activities such as construction, installation, repair, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

According to the government, this development is part of Executive Order (EO) No. 32, known as “Streamlining the Permitting Process for the Construction of Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure.”

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR), promulgated as Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2023-01, aim to guide all relevant departments, offices, agencies, and stakeholders in implementing the EO.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued EO 32 on July 4 this year.

The EO, issued in July this year by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., mandated the creation of a TWG, comprising the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

These agencies were given 60 days to formulate the necessary rules and regulations to initiate steps toward the development of vital telecommunications and internet infrastructure in the Philippines.

Under the IRR, unified application form will be adopted, in which, preformatted form building permit applications shall be prescribed in all cities and municipalities in the country.

Those applying for a building permit shall be required to submit property documents, technical documents, height clearance permit, and homeowners association (HOA) clearance, together with the unified application form.

To secure a Certificate of Use and a Business or Mayor’s permit, applicants should submit the following, among others:  certificate of completion, construction logbook, photocopy of valid licenses, photograph of structure, yellow card/clearance from electrical service provider, and copy of As-Built Plan reflecting changes and modifications.

The IRR also set the requirements for the erection of poles and construction of underground fiber ducts, cable layout on existing poles and other physical infrastructure, as well as the operation, repair and maintenance of passive telecommunications tower infrastructure (PTIIs), including distribution utility facilities.

Rules for securing clearances from other government agencies and local government’s adoption of EO No. 32 were also spelled out in the IRR.

It mandates all cities to set up a One-Stop Shop for Construction Permits, preferably at the Office of the Building Official, which will provide frontline services to applicants securing building permits and other certificates related to telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

The IRR also prohibits anti-competitive activities and directs agencies and LGUs to implement zero-backlog policy in all application for permits and clearances covered under the order.

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