Cebu News

Labella: Cell sites must stop operation

May B. Miasco/FPL - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City acting mayor Edgardo Labella is determined to shut down the operations of two giant telecommunication firms in Barangay Apas.

Residents of the Sitio Calvary Hills who have been pushing for the shutdown of the cell sites brought their concerns to Labella. The acting mayor conducted an ocular inspection recently.

“The health concern is paramount to the people. That’s why I am here to check since the homeowners group complained through Dr. (Porponio) Lapa (Jr.) that it was not yet deactivated,” Labella told reporters yesterday during his visit at the site with the homeowners group and barangay officials.

Lapa is the president of the Calvary Hills Apas Residents’ Organization, which comprises around 200 members. The shutdown of the cell sites has been long overdue.

The City Council has revoked its permit and was subsequently issued closure order. However, the two cell sites remain in operation as of yesterday.

On the first week of January 2016, it was Labella who issued the “cease-and-desist” order against Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc., which is operating the cell site for Sun Cellular, and the Globe Telecom.   Labella said that DMPI sent him a letter requesting for six months extension. The acting mayor said he will deny the request.

Labella clarified that what needs to be enforced as soon as possible will be the deactivation of their operations as he recognized that the removal of the two towers may take some time.  The city’s demolition team, Prevention Restoration Order Beautification and Enhancement, was tasked to ensure that the two firms have stopped operations.

“I’m going to issue a memorandum to PROBE to deactivate this as soon as possible,” said Labella.

If the two firms will oppose on the given order, the acting mayor would want to remain on his stand.

“We will continue with the deactivation,” he said.

Labella said he will call for a consultative meeting on February 9 with all the concerned stakeholders such as the homeowners, barangay officials, and telecom operators concerned to discuss how to dismantle the two cell towers.

“For the removal of the towers, it will not be easy. Second, considering that there are technical requirements since we can’t easily remove the whole structure, it needs highly-technical people so we will agree among ourselves on how to remove it… and maybe (personnel from the two cell sites) can help since they manage the towers,” Labella explained.

The collaborative effort is sought to provide proper ways on how to dismantle the two towers and avoid creating another problem.

“On how they will do (on removing) it, that will be discussed during the meeting,” said Labella.

Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman said the initiative shown by the acting mayor only shows that he stands on his order.

“Abi pa lang dili ta ser-yoso, nahadlok ta aning mga dagkong telecommunications company tungod kay mao man gud ni ang impression sa uban kay abi’g election time na mahadlok nga dili hatagan og suporta,” he said.

He also asked the Department of Health-7 to start conducting the epidemiological study to investigate the claims of the residents that the more than 20 cancer cases in the community was due to the radiation emitted by the cell sites.

Ayuman said the request was supported by a resolution approved by the City Council.

“Pero hangtod karon wala pa man gyud. Ganahan unta ko nga i-pursue to siya para fair sa tanan both sa telcos and residents of Sitio Calvary,” he said.

Lapa said he only wants for the operations to stop at the soonest possible time.

“We hope for the immediate implementation and closure of this cell sites of course. We have to pray for the souls of our neighbors of those who died due to cancer,” he said.

Lapa was hopeful that health hazards will now put to a stop and thanked Labella and all the involved stakeholders for listening to their appeal.

“Nalipay mi nga nianhi siya (Labella which only shows that) he is true to his words, he has a word of honor, mo-appreciate mi if he’s honoring his promise. We’re happy because siya man gyud ang nagpirma sa closure order last January, followed up by PROBE office and there was an inspection done yesterday,” he said.  (FREEMAN)


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