A glimpse of the council hearing (19 January 2016) on our petition letter signed by 70 homeowners and residents of Amityville Subdivision—96% of whom I only met for the first time—against the cell site installation in Mt. Samat.
- Among the councilors who are part of the Committee on Public Utility, only the chairman, Coun. Arman Leo Angeles attended and at the same time presided over the meeting. Not present but included in the Notice of Meeting were Coun. Rommel Ayuson and Coun. Glenn Evangelista. Coun. Angeles said they’re busy.
- Other attendees: Robert Bondad Jr., DPI BellTel representative; Edilberto Braganza and Louie Rosario, president and board of director respectively of Amityville Homeowners Association (AHA); Engr. Josefino Amado of MPDC; and Doyle Camba, son of Mr. Fernando Camba.
- Before the meeting started, I gave them a copy of our second petition letter of additional signatures of support from other homeowners and residents from Mt. Isarog, Mt. Canlaon, Mt. Apo, Mt. Malindang, Mt. Data, Mt. Arayat, Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Sierra Madre, and T. Reyes Ave. and attached to it was our first petition letter signed by homeowners and residents from Mt. Samat or near Mt. Samat. It was impossible to knock on the door of every house in Amityville but at least we got a lot.
- It was two against five: Me and Doyle vs. five men including the presiding officer, Coun. Angeles. I told Coun. Angeles that he should not address us as if we’re the only ones who were having a conflict, getting into trouble arguing over the cell site. He is involved, too, I said to him. For he, vice mayor Jonas Cruz, Coun. Rommel C. Ayuson, Coun. Glenn S. Evangelista, Coun. Katrina Ramos-Leyva, Coun. Mark Anthony C. Marcelo, Coun. Mario Roderick C. Lazarte, Coun. Roger N. Frias, Coun. Richard M. Buizon, and mayor Cecilio C. Hernandez approved this proposed cell site installation in Amityville Subdivision, Bgy. San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal. I read their names one by one so it can be recorded.
- Bondad of BellTel said they conducted a survey with the residents of Amityville Subd. particularly those who are living within its 50 meters radius. Bondad said only those within the 50 meters radius of the cell site would be affected. Braganza gave me a copy of their survey mentioned by Bondad, a list of residents giving their consent to the cell site. The survey that gives favor to the cell site installation was signed by officers and some of the board of directors of AHA and by informal settlers.
- In the middle of the meeting, Atty. Alcantara arrived. He was one of the homeowners and residents of Amityville Subd. who signed our petition letter against the cell site. It was a relief that Atty. Alcantara came by even for a short while to help argue with me. Atty. Alcantara is one of the first ten homeowners of Amityville Subdivision since 1975.
- But Coun. Angeles got irritated with the arguments. He set a rule. He ordered us that we will only be allowed to speak one person at a time. Which means I have to ask permission if I want to react to the statements of my opponent.
- When it was my turn to speak, I said four things why the cell site should be stopped:
- The cell site doesn’t have consent from the homeowners of Amityville, particularly us, who are really close to the proposed cell site.
- The people who signed the survey that approved the cell site are informal settlers and construction workers.
- The cell site did not go through the right process for there was no ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate). Bondad said there was an ECC but he did not show it during the council hearing.
- There was a failure from the part of the officers and board of directors of AHA to organize a General Assembly of homeowners and residents of Amityville Subdivision that would inform us about the plan for a cell site, that would explain where the money would go and how much is the rental payment, and that would give us a venue to vote or not to vote for it. (When we were doing the house-to-house to get signatures, majority of the homeowners and residents got no idea that there was going to be a cellular tower to be installed in Amityville.)
- Braganza, president of AHA, in response to my claim that we did not receive a copy of the survey, gave me this excuse: it was because I wasn’t always around. He said to me, “Your work is from Monday to Saturday.” I said no, it’s Monday to Friday.
- Coun. Angeles was doubting our complaint. He said why only now that we’re complaining just when the project has just begun. (Can’t he get it? Because we didn’t know!) He also claimed that BellTel submitted “complete” requirements.
- Bondad of BellTel was giving me a litany on why the cell site is not dangerous. I was just looking at him but not listening. Sometimes looking away then looking at the window.
- I said there was no ECC. Bondad said my concern was only the issue on health (cancer etc.). Coun. Angeles supported his statement. I corrected Coun. Angeles. I pointed to him at the second paragraph of our petition letter the other issue and read it out loud, not just loud but I scream out the words. Coun. Angeles told me to cool down. I said he should give me the freedom to express my rage. (My anger got activated again.)
- Doyle asked if they will continue with the construction of the cell site. They said yes for they complied with the requirements. But there will be another committee hearing, seconded Coun. Angeles, since other councilors were absent.
- After the meeting, Coun. Angeles reached out to me to shake hands. I refused. Bondad of BellTel also reached out to shake hands, I rejected him.
- After the meeting, I had our second petition letter of additional signatures with attachment of the first petition letter photocopied. In the afternoon, we distributed it to every household who signed in our petition. We didn’t get to finish the distribution because some of the homeowners/residents would like to strike up a conversation asking what happened, saying other things that they know about eating much of our time (but we don’t mind). I couldn’t help conversing with them either. Accidentally, in the store where I had the letters photocopied, I met the wife of Coun. Ayuson. The wife of Coun. Ayuson turned out to be the owner/manager of the printing store. Taking advantage of the situation, I talked to the wife about the council hearing and about Coun. Ayuson not showing up. Mrs. Ayuson quickly called her husband’s secretary. Anyway, Mrs. Ayuson just told me that the secretary did not receive the notice of the meeting.
An Update (20 January 2016):
Went to Department of Environment and Natural Resources, at the Environment Management Bureau/ Environment Impact Assessment. Here I was told that the ECC under a presidential decree no longer covers telecommunication project of all types due to a memorandum circular from 2014. Cell sites now are under the jurisdiction of LGUs.