By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, December 1, 2023; Philippine News Agency

MANILA – The government has issued a joint memorandum circular (MC) setting the rules and regulations of Executive Order (EO) 32, which streamlines the processes for the construction of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure.

The Joint MC 2023-01 containing the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of EO 32 was signed by the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure composed of five government agencies.

Signatories were Secretaries Ivan John Uy (Information and Communications Technology), Manuel Bonoan (Public Works), and Benjamin Abalos Jr. (Interior and Local Government); National Telecommunications Commission Commissioner Ella Blanca Lopez; and Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Ernesto Perez.

“These Implementing Rules and Regulations are hereby promulgated and issued as Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2023-01 to guide all concerned departments, offices, agencies, and stakeholders, in the implementation of EO No. 32,” read the joint memorandum, which was made public on Friday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued EO 32 on July 4 to institutionalize a set of streamlined guidelines for the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure.

The EO covers the streamlining of the processes for the construction, installation, repair, operation, and maintenance of such infrastructures.

The order covers all national government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, as well as local government units (LGUs) involved in the issuance of permits, licenses, clearances, certifications, and authorizations.

EO 32 also created the TWG on Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure that formulated the IRR.

Under the IRR, a 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 permits, and homeowners’ association clearance, together with the unified application form.

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

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

Rules for securing clearances from other government agencies and the local government’s adoption of EO 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 front-line 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 a zero-backlog policy in all applications for permits and clearances covered under the order.

The joint MC takes effect 15 days from publication, either in the Official Gazette or two national newspapers of general circulation, and from the filing of three certified copies with the University of the Philippines Law Center.