MANILA—The Free Internet Access Act can still be implemented even without a National Broadband Plan, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said.
DITC Undersecretary Denis Villorente made this confirmation during a Senate hearing where he was asked by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV if the plan was necessary to implement free internet in public spaces.
“Can the Free Internet Access Act be fulfilled even without a National Broadband Plan?” Aquino asked Villorente, who replied in the affirmative.
At present, the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act (Senate Bill No. 1277) has been approved by the Senate on third and final reading via 18-0 vote. Aquino is principal sponsor and co-author of the measure.
Aquino said that the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act has a provision where its purposes should be fulfilled within two years after its passage into law.
Meanwhile, the NBP is expected to take three years to finish. It will be put up starting 2018 and it is expected to be fully operational in 2020.
The senator also the failure or success of the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act should not be contingent on the NBP and assured the DICT that funding will be not be a problem once the measure is enacted into law.
He was also hopeful that once finished, the NBP can be a cheaper option in the implementation of the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.
DICT was supportive of the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act and committed to work with both Houses of Congress during the bicameral conference committee to craft the final version of the measure.
The House recently passed its own version on third and final reading last week. After both Houses ratify the version from the bicameral conference committee, it will be transmitted to Malacanang for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
Aquino also encouraged the DICT to also encourage more internet providers to improve the Philippine’s slow internet service.
“We need to work on parallel efforts to achieve faster, cheaper and more reliable internet services in our country. Let’s work on the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, but let’s also encourage more players and internet providers,” Aquino said.