Telecom firms ordered to shut down cell sites
Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has ordered the closure of Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular cell sites in sitio Calvary Hills, barangay Apas.
Labella also ordered the city police and the city’s Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (Probe) team to enforce the closure order and inform his office within five days of its implementation.
In separate letters sent to the two companies, Labella said the special permit that was issued to them was revoked by the Cebu City Council in May last year.
The letters were sent out on Thursday.
“In view of the foregoing, you are hereby ordered to close the operation of your cell site immediately upon receipt hereof. This order shall take effect immediately and shall continue indefinitely until such time that this is ordered revoked or lifted,” Labella said in his order.
Apas barangay chairman Ramil Ayuman welcomed the order but said it may be difficult for City Hall personnel to dismantle the cell sites since it requires technical expertise.
Residents of sitio Calvary Hills have been complaining about the operations of the cell sites in the area for the past few years.
They blamed radiation from the cell sites for causing several cancer-related cases and deaths among the residents.
Labella said he issued the orders only now as he received the recommendation from the city legal office just recently.
He said both Globe and Sun Cellular can question the closure order in court.
“I think the main consideration there is the health hazards it posed to the residents of sitio Calvary considering that there are a number of cancer victims and a number of them already died and there are still many who are sick,” he said.
Labella said the closure order was pushed by the barangay, the City Health Office and the City Legal Office.
Representatives of Globe and Sun Cellular have yet to issue an official statement on the closure order.
Ayuman said representatives of both Globe and Sun have been visiting their office since last year saying they are planning to transfer the cell sites.
“Last year, representatives of Globe said they will already dismantle their cell site by December. But until now, they haven’t done it. With Sun, some engineers have started talking with us and we’ve already inspected the area where they will be transferring their cell site,” he said.
A hinterland area at the boundary of barangays Apas and Banilad was identified as the new site.
Ayuman said there are no houses near the area as it can only be reached by foot and is difficult to reach using a vehicle. Sun Cellular representatives met with Apas barangay officials last October.
Sun’s special permit was revoked by the council after the residents objected to the presence of its cell tower for lack of proper public consultation for the project.
As for Globe, their special permit already expired and has to be renewed if they want to continue operating within the city.
“The lesson learned here is while we don’t oppose the presence of cell site since it’s important for getting signals, there should be no shortcuts. There should be proper public hearing and it has to be properly implemented. If it’s a residential area, it shouldn’t be placed there,” Ayuman said.
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