Editorial: Need for (net) speed [People’s Journal]

From People’s Journal: From unwavering fidelity to the Constitution to high fidelity to life-enhancing technology, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson relentlessly pursues practical but meaningful legislation. Motivated by the pressing need to strengthen the country’s digital backbone, Lacson thankfully threw his full support behind the government’s plan to provide free Wi-Fi, especially in far-flung areas, and to set up a national broadband program.

Need for (net) speed

October 9, 2020
People’s Journal

THE top law enforcer-turned-lawmaker is no certified techie, but his heart is in the right digital place.

From unwavering fidelity to the Constitution to high fidelity to life-enhancing technology, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson relentlessly pursues practical but meaningful legislation.

Motivated by the pressing need to strengthen the country’s digital backbone, Lacson thankfully threw his full support behind the government’s plan to provide free Wi-Fi, especially in far-flung areas, and to set up a national broadband program.

He said he would push for a bigger budget for the two programs, as he noted these would serve as the backbone of the country’s economy. “This is the backbone of our economy. In this day and age of modern information technology, we have no reason not to catch up or to be at par with neighboring countries, considering that potential investors’ first concern would be Internet speed,” Lacson said at the budget hearing for the Department of Information and Communications Technology and National Telecommunications Commission.

“I am a believer in ICT because there is so much we can do if our ICT is efficient,” he added.

During the hearing, the DICT revealed that they sought an additional P17.276 billion under the 2021 budget to complete their national broadband program, which aims to cover hundreds of government offices.

The program can potentially save P720 million in taxpayers’ money in its first year of implementation, and save P34.25 billion in internet connectivity expenses within the next five years.

While the DICT’s ideal budget to complete the national broadband program is P18,178,708,149.20, the Department of Budget and Management approved only P902,194,000 in the National Expenditure Program.

Also, the DICT sought an additional P3.625 billion for free Wi-Fi in remote areas. While its ideal budget was P6,350,579,000, only P2,725,461,000 was approved in the NEP.

Lacson also cited the DICT’s role in assisting the integration of databases of government agencies to further cut bureaucratic red tape.

“In this case, the budgets for the database will be with the departments concerned, but the DlCT will guide the departments on the use of the budgets,” he said.

Indeed, rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the country overcome the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty, according to the report by the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority.

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