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Legarda: What happened to P327-million free WiFi program for SUCs?

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda has asked the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture, and on Higher and Technical Education to look into the implementation of the government’s Nationwide Free Public Internet Access Program.

Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda (Congresswoman Loren Legarda Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda (Congresswoman Loren Legarda Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance said that under the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Congress allocated P327 million for the installation of free WiFi in state universities and colleges (SUCs) alone.

“With that, may I kindly request my dear colleagues, Congressman Mark Go and Congressman Roman Romulo, to look into the implementation of this 2018 GAA provision because by now, all SUCs should already have WiFi based on our 2018 GAA which was two years ago,” she said during the recent virtual hearing of the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee-New Normal Cluster on the proposed P38.86-billion Recovery Assistance Package for higher education and technical-vocational education and training (TVET).

Go, lone district representative of Baguio City, chairs the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, while Romulo, lone district representative of Pasig City, leads the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture.

Legarda noted that she had sought an investigation into the implementation of Republic Act No. 10929 or the Nationwide Free Public Internet Access Program in a public hearing few months before the lockdown.

“It is important to make sure that the funds were downloaded and implemented in every SUC,” Legarda stressed.

During the virtual hearing, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) disclosed that the number of SUCs with WiFi is 67.

The country, however, has 112 SUCs.

Legarda asked the DICT to submit a comprehensive report on the status of the implementation of RA 10929 from 2018 to 2020.

“I admit that P327 million may not be enough. We would want to know the full amount utilized, which are the 67 SUCs, which are the remaining of the 112, how many campuses or satellite campuses?” she asked.

She also asked the DICT to apprise the subpanel on how many learners and teachers were served by the government’s Free Public Internet Access Program.

“Under our present circumstances, accessibility and reliability of our Internet connection has become everyone’s No. 1 concern, not only in our workplaces, in the universities and schools, but also in our respective communities and homes,” Legarda said.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/06/18/legarda-what-happened-to-p327-million-free-wifi-program-for-sucs/)

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