Residents in Cebu City barangay say no to third telco’s cell site
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The residents of Lower Calvary in Barangay Apas, Cebu City refused the proposition of a cell site to be built in their area by the country’s third telecommunication company (telco) during a public hearing on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
According to Apas Barangay Captain Virgil Cabigon, the two-hour public hearing ended with the residents firmly refusing another cell tower being built in their residential area.
“Dili gyod sila gusto og atong tumanon ang gusto sa katawhan, so dili gyod ta mohatag sa permit nga ila gipangayo,” said Cabigon.
(The people really do not want the cell site, so we will not provide the permit.)
The residents of Sitio Lower Calvary have been fighting against the cell sites in their areas for years as two cell sites have already been constructed by Globe and Digital Mobile Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) previously known as Sun Cellular and now owned by Smart.
In 2014, the homeowners association attributed 30 cancer cases in their sub-village to the two cell sites of Globe and Smart, which led to more than a year of dispute with the giant telcos and the case even reaching the court.
Out of the 30 cancer cases, 19 died of the illness, prompting residents to request for the closure of the cell sites.
The city government ordered the shutting down of the two cell sites in May 2016 after the city council revoked the special permits of the two telcos, but Globe got a temporary restraining order from the court against the shutdown.
Globe also presented studies to the City Council proving that cell sites did not cause cancer through radiation.
Still, the Globe cell site was eventually shut down on the same year, but the Sun Cellular/Smart cell site remains active.
Until now, Sun Cellular/Smart is still in a legal battle to keep the cell site in Barangay Apas active, four years later.
It can be noted that both cell sites were built in a private lot in Apas.
This time, another telco, DITO, wants to build on the same lot, but the homeowners put their foot down and refused from the public hearing level that any cell site that may cause radiation would be built again near their homes.
Cabigon said that with the refusal of the residents, the barangay cannot be forced to create a resolution allowing the cell site’s construction.
“Pero nag expect mi nga mamugos gyod na ang telco. Hinaot kon mahitabo na, tabangan mi sa dakbayan,” said Cabigon.
(But we expect the telco to find ways for the cell site to push through. We hope that if that happens, the city government would help us.)
CDN Digital tried to reach out to DITO telecommunications in Cebu, but their online pages have not responded to queries.
As of now, Cabigon assured the public that the barangay will heed the call of the people and will not support this new cell site.
Former Apas barangay chief, Ramil Ayuman, who strongly fought for the shutting down of the two cell sites in 2014 during his term as village chief, said this is a welcome development.
He said the struggle continues to shut down the cell site that is currently active but blocking another telco from building a new one is a big step.
“Kailangan consistent gyod ang barangay kay gipaningkamutan gyod na nato nga mapatangtang nang duha. Madungan pa gyod og laing telco, di gyod na maayo,” said Ayuman, who now heads the City Disaster Risk Reduction Office.
(The barangay should be consistent because we worked hard for those two to be shut down. To add another telco, that is really not good.) /bmjo
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