City wants NTC help to stop Apas cell towers
May B. Miasco/JMO (The Freeman) - February 9, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City government will ask the help of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in deactivating the cell towers in Sitio Calvary Hills, Barangay Apas that the city has ordered shut down for being alleged health hazards.

Vice Mayor Edgar Labella has called for a meeting with NTC on Friday.

The city decided to seek the help of NTC after the head of its demolition team, the Prevention Restoration Order Beautification and Enhancement (PROBE), admitted that deactivating or tearing the cell towers down is not simple, especially that houses are located nearby.

Labella tasked PROBE to ensure that the two cell towers owned by giant telecommunication firms Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. of Sun Cellular and Globe Telecom will stop operating.

PROBE chief Raquel Arce said they had a hard time enforcing the directive since the job is “complicated” and involves technical expertise.

“Sun (Cellular’s lawyer) asked for more time for them to transfer but the residents asked for the immediate deactivation of the cell towers but unsay kasiguradoan nila,” Arce said.

A consultative meeting yesterday gathered leaders and members of the homeowners’ organization of Sitio Calvary Hills, the legal counsel of DMPI, and a barangay official. No one came from Globe Telecom.

Apas Barangay Chairman Ramil Ayuman said the residents and the DMPI counsel may not have reached an agreement, at least as of this time.

“Wala magkasinabot ang sa Sun Cellular ug ang mga residente. The Sun asked for ample time for them to look for another area to transfer but the residents kay aporado man kaayo,” he said.

Residents in the area have claimed that at least 35 people succumbed to cancer-related illnesses reportedly due to the radiation emitted by the cell towers.

Lawyer Eduardo Felipe, the counsel of DMPI, said the kind of notion that the cell towers’ radiation has been the cause of the illnesses is only an "urban myth" and that no scientific study can support it fully.

Still, he said, the company is willing to comply with the city’s decision to have the towers deactivated.

Felipe was also hopeful that the series of consultations will result to solutions that will be satisfactory for all parties involved.

“We are hoping for a win-win solution,” he said, adding, they have the option to go to court but decided to open for talks.

“We will attend the next hearing. You see, deactivation is not a simple matter,” he said. — (FREEMAN)

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