As COVID-19 pushes transactions, learning, and connectivity online, Senator Lito Lapid said that all unserved and underserved areas in the Philippines should have access to the Internet.
Apart from online learning and e-commerce, the senator said there is also a demand for telemedicine at this time, as people continue to observe social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
However, not every Filipino has access to online services.
“Sa kasamaang palad, marami sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi makasabay sa pagtungo natin sa digital age," Lapid said in a statement.
Lapid also mentioned how the lack of an internet subscription remains a problem for poor Filipinos: “Problema pa rin ng marami sa atin ang mabilis na internet connection at para sa mga mahihirap nating kapatid, ang pagkakaroon ng internet ay isang bagay na hindi kasama sa kanilang prayoridad lalo sa maliit nilang kinikita. Problema din ang kuneksyon sa internet sa malalayong lugar o isolated areas.”
To bring connectivity to the rest of the country, Lapid filed Senate Bill No. 1598 or the proposed Last Mile Broadband Internet Connection Act which, if enacted into law, would mandate telecommunications companies to construct, set up, and operate broadband facilities in far-flung areas for every certain number of subscribers.
The bill would also mandate the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to identify which areas in the country are unserved or underserved in order to prioritize them. The NTC must also check if the telco providers are following guidelines.
Lapid said it was about time for this bill: “Oras na maisabatas ang panukalang ito, inaasahan natin na walang komunidad ang maiiwan pagdating sa internet connectivity. Lalo sa panahon ngayon na hindi na lamang luho ang internet kung isang mahalagang pangangailangan para sa trabaho at edukasyon.”
Earlier this week, teachers in Davao De Oro camped on the side of a highway just to connect to the Internet in order to join a webinar from the Department of Education.