With residents simply waiting for the official count indicating that majority want small antenna systems installed within Forbes Park to boost their mobile phone signals, a staunch opposer wants neighbors to read up on the dangers posed by these outdoor equipment.
The appeal from Maite P. Gallego, independent member of the Forbes Park Association Inc. board of governors, comes on the heels of the special meeting held Thursday night that recorded 286 “yes” votes favoring the installation of outdoor distributed antenna systems (Odas), against 196 “no” votes.
The figures are the result of a survey conducted among the residents to determine whether Smart and Globe Telecom would be allowed to put up more Odas and boost the weak signals that residents experience.
Residents interviewed by Inquirer Lifestyle complain of weak telecom signals that force them to go outdoors to get or to make a call.
While for some time now Smart and Globe have been poised to install additional Odas to boost the signal, the months-long disagreement among neighbors whether or not to allow the Odas inside the village has hampered this plan.
Manuel A. Dizon, FPA vice president and member of the board of governors, described the Thursday tally as the “final count” that the collective body expects to announce as official on July 31, Friday.
“Hopefully we can certify [the] official count by Friday… I hope that settles the issue,” he said in a text message to Inquirer Lifestyle.
Dizon added, however, that there were 11 “defective votes” that need to be “cured” before Friday.
He referred to the ballots that were distributed to all households and embassies within Forbes Park, asking whether or not they favored the installation.
Asked to explain what he meant by defective votes, Dizon said “some ballots with defective or deficient supporting papers… need to be cured of defects and we have given parties until Friday to cure them.”
Ballots deemed compliant with FPA requirements will be included in the count to be released Friday.
Dizon noted that the 11 defective votes are not part of the final count relayed to Inquirer Lifestyle. But even if these ballots reject the Odas, they would not be enough to overturn the count established Thursday.
As this developed, Gallego said those opposed to the Odas still scored a moral victory as they increased awareness and raised the discussion to a higher level.
She said the effort is now reflected in the increasing number of homeowners who will submit “Not On My Sidewalk (NOMS)” letters to the FPA. Gallego said about one-third of village residents are expected to turn in their NOMS letters soon.
“By law, a homeowner has the right to oppose having an Oda or cell tower or any telecommunications antenna emitting (electromotive force or EMF) radiation on the sidewalk adjoining the property,” she said in a solicited e-mailed statement.
Concerned residents earlier said they are worried that an Oda installed within or close to their property might emit radiation that could cause cancer or other deadly diseases.
Gallego said the plan is to make sure that the Odas would only be installed “on the sidewalks of those who really want them, because presumably, they are the ones who are most signal-challenged and will benefit most from [these].”
Gallego said that as it is, “many of us in Forbes Park are already getting very good signal [from existing telecom satellites].”
Besides, friends from nearby Dasmariñas Village “are not exactly” giving “rave reviews” about the Odas put up there.
She also questioned the wisdom of outdoor antennas within Forbes Park after noting that houses in the village are mostly made up of thick concrete walls, metals, rebars and glass panes that block telecom signals.
“On the other hand, as the public can ascertain for themselves, indoor distributed antennas, picocells and femtocells (smaller versions of Odas) have proven [to be] quite effective in strengthening signals inside buildings,” Gallego said.
She mentioned the RCBC Plaza along Ayala Avenue in Makati City, the NET Buildings at The Fort in Taguig City, and Changi Airport in Singapore as among those that utilize these indoor antennas.
Gallego’s e-mail also made the following points:
The Barangay Forbes public hearing held July 10 “made it patently obvious that the public is barely provided any protection from EMF radiation emissions. Current safety limits set by law do not protect people living near cell towers and Odas.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources still does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Odas-related technology despite information that EMF radiation could cause cancer and “inter-generational implications” such as fathering autistic or schizophrenic children.
The “unsightly appearance” of Odas could affect property prices.