Sen. Lacson sponsored the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology amounting to P14,139,746,000, and reiterated his call to augment funding for the National Broadband Program. “I have repeatedly appealed to our colleagues to support the NBP (because) this is the new normal. Lahat umaasa sa Internet connection including DepEd, SUCs, and practically all government agencies. If we complete the funding requirements by augmenting the necessary amount, we will have a very efficient internet service available to all government agencies, including LGUs.”
Proposed Budget Breakdown:
The DICT’s proposed 2021 budget includes: P13.493B for OSEC, P11.670M for the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center, P208.583M for the National Privacy Commission, and P426.133M for NTC.
Sen. Lacson also stressed the need to empower DICT and NTC to take the lead in telecommunications. “In this day and age of technology, especially in the midst of the pandemic, talagang puro internet service ang kailangan natin.”
He added there may be there’s a need to visit the law on telco policies, which dates back to 1995. “We may need to revisit the law and amend to conform with the present times.”
Need for P18B for National Broadband Program:
Sen. Lacson noted the DICT currently needs at least P18B to complete its National Broadband Program, but the DBM has allocated only P902M. Under the GAB, the HOR augmented P2B while Senate finance committee chairman Juan Edgardo Angara added another P3B, making it P5.9B. But with just P5.9B, DICT can cover only Phase 1 that includes Metro Manila to Davao, excluding Regions 1 and 2 and some island provinces like Palawan.
On the other hand, Sen. Lacson said government “should not over-rely” on private telcos, and should support the NBP. He added that if the DICT would get the P18B it needs, private telcos will become “subscribers” of the government’s fiber-based network. “According to the DICT, if we are able to finance the P18B requirement, telcos na mag-subscribe sa govt. Di na sila kailangan magtayo ng towers, antenna na lang kasi fiber na ito.”
He also said that with the broadband network, the government may earn income from private telcos that will now become its subscribers. “If we complete the funding requirement, the private telcos will be at the mercy of govt, they will be subscribers kasi fiber na ito. Wala na silang reason para hindi mag-deliver.”