power and water

Duterte jokes about hanging Globe’s Ernest Cu for slow internet

Ralf Rivas
Globe CEO Ernest Cu tells President Rodrigo Duterte that government red tape is the reason why companies can't build telco towers easily

President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to hang Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu to one of his telco towers if the country’s problematic internet speed is not fixed.

Cu, in turn, quipped that it was government’s red tape that was the cause of delays.

“[S]abi ko ‘pag hindi mo pa na-improve ‘yan, I will hang you in one of your towers,” Duterte said in a speech on Friday, July 31. (I told him, if you can’t improve that, I will hang you in one of your towers.)

“Sabi niya, ‘Mayor, you cannot do that because there is no tower. The local governments are all fucked it up, that’s why. So saan mo ako bitayin? Sa lubi?’ Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka, Erns.’”

(He said, “Mayor, you cannot do that because there is no tower. The local governments are all fucked it up (sic), that’s why. So where will you hang me? On the coconut tree?” I said, “You’re right Erns.”)

Cu, who was present in the briefing, said telco companies need to secure various permits, which are often different per province, further delaying roll outs.

“We are suffering ho from many, many years of this, before your administration, many administrations. Twenty-five to 29 permits, umaabot ng walong buwan tapos marami pa ho kaming mga miscellaneous fees ho, iba-ibang klaseng tower fee, mayroon kaming special use permit (it takes us up to 8 months, and there are miscellaneous fees to pay, different tower fees, we have special use permits),” Cu explained.

Cu added that the different rules per locality hinder telco companies from improving services.

Kung nag-apply kami ng 5,000 towers times 28 or 30 permits na lang, ilang libo hong permit ang kukunin namin para lang makapag-umpisa,” Cu said.

Thousands of permits needed

For us to build 5,000 towers, which need 28 to 30 permits each, we need thousands of permits just to start.

The Philippines has among the slowest internet speeds in the world. The Philippines’ average speed of around 19 megabits per second (Mbps) is much slower than the global average of 57.91 Mbps.

Billionaire Jack Ma even said during his visit in the Philippines that the country’s internet is “no good.”

Duterte told Cu that he can ask officials like Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III or military generals like Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to help out.

Duterte, however, was firm he would not apologize for the government’s shortcomings.

The President earlier slammed telco companies in his 5th State of the Nation Address, even threatening a government takeover if services do not improve.

I make no apologies about it kung ano ang nagawa ko o anong mali ko. Basta ako magtrabaho lang,” Duterte said. (I make no apologies for what I have done or done wrong. I just work.)

Año said a new joint memorandum circular will trim red tape, removing requirements like homeowners’ resolutions. Doing so, Año said, would bring the process of tower-building to just 20 days.– Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.