1 July 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), together with various key agencies, signed the revised and expanded Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on the streamlining of the permitting process of shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTIs).

Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, digitally signed Revised JMC No. 01, Series of 2021, titled the “Revising and Expanding Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01, S. 2020 or the Streamlined Guidelines for the Issuance of Permits, Licenses, and Certificates for the Construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTIs)” on Thursday.

Belgica welcomed the signing of the revised JMC. He expressed hope that the newly signed issuance will prevent confusion among government agencies in their streamlining efforts.

“We hope that the clarifications brought by this Expanded JMC will remove uncertainties by some LGUs in complying with the streamlined process,” he said in a statement.

“We call on private sector to continue to push for the construction of more telco towers and report to ARTA if there would be erring officials that would cause any deliberate delay,” he added.

Other signatories of the JMC include officials from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Department of Health (DOH), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The finalization of the JMC was also done in observance of the National ICT Month, with the theme “Onwards Through ICT: Building a Stronger Philippine Digital Economy,” this June.

It aims to reduce delays and streamline the processes to secure permits, licenses, and authorizations of PTTIs, whether shared or exclusive, to accelerate the roll out of telecommunication infrastructure and service projects.

To realize this, it harmonized the provisions of the original JMC and Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

The revised JMC shall apply to all pending and new applications for the construction, installation, repair, operation, and maintenance of PTTIs, both shared and those by Independent Tower Companies (ITCs) duly registered with the DICT and public telecommunication entities (PTEs) who have secured certificates of public convenience and necessity or provisional authority granted by NTC.

The JMC provided an exclusive list of documentary requirements for building permit. It weeded out the documentary requirements for building permit that are not applicable to PTTIs and removed the Fire Safety Evaluation Clearance requirement for the construction of towers only.

The issuance also mandates the submission of a Unified Application form for Building Permit, Locational Clearance and Barangay Clearance to the One-Stop Shop for Construction Permits (OSSCP) set up by local government units.

PTTIs that will be constructed outside the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Critical Areas and below 50 meters in height above the elevation of the ground will no longer be required to secure a Height Clearance Permit (HCP) from CAAP.

Instead, they will be required to submit an Affidavit of Undertaking certified by a Geodetic Engineer, attesting that the proposed structure will be built outside the CAAP Critical Areas as received and evaluated by the CAAP.

If the proposed PTTI is to be constructed in a residential area without a duly registered Homeowner’s Association (HOA), the applicant will no longer be required to secure Homeowner’s Association Consent but shall only be required to submit a Certification that there is no existing duly registered HOA in the proposed project site and undertake that they will conduct social preparation or endeavor to educate the affected homeowners.

The involved government agencies will also set up various coordination mechanisms, including a planning database, public-private consultation and coordination, and a complaints mechanism for seamless and efficient delivery of services.

The prescribed and non-extendible processing time for building permits is seven working days and three working days for business permits.

The original JMC, the first one to adopt the use of digital signatures, was signed on 23 July 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It paved the way for the release of at least 26,636 pending permits in the telecommunications sector as of June 2021. Since it was released, the number of permits needed has decreased from 13 to 8, documentary requirements from 86 to 15, and length of time for processing from 241 days to 16 days.

The JMC is in line with ARTA’s flagship National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficiency Measures of Interrelated Agencies (NEHEMIA) Program, a sectoral based inter-agency streamlining effort that aims to reduce 52 percent of processing time, costs, requirements or procedures within 52 weeks in 2020.

The Telecommunications Sector is among the five focus sectors for the first phase of the program.