PBBM vows free internet in all remote areas

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

December 24, 2022, 7:57 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday vowed that his administration will do its best to make sure that there will be free internet services in all far-flung areas.

Marcos made the commitment during his surprise appearance at the "Online Kamustahan" organized by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), according to a statement from Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

On Christmas Eve, Marcos led the virtual rollout of "BroadBand ng Masa Program" (BBMP) by providing free internet to students and teachers from geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) nationwide.

During the online gathering, Marcos said the BBMP will be implemented in all remote islands, especially those without access to mobile cellular services.

“'Yung mga malalayo, ‘yan ang mas kailangan. Lalo na ‘yung mga bata, para sa kanilang eskwela. Buti na lang, maraming bagong teknolohiya na pwedeng gamitin, na (Those from remote areas need this [free internet services], especially the children for their education. It’s good to know that there is advanced technology that) we’re taking full advantage of,” Marcos said, as quoted by the OPS.

Marcos said the use of digital technologies will improve interconnectivity and government services.

Para naman kahit saan sa Pilipinas, makakaramdam tayo ng connectivity. At napaka-importante na ngayon niyan (It is very important now so we can feel the connectivity everywhere in the Philippines),” he said.

Marcos also took the chance to talk to students and teachers who participated in the online event, including those who are from remote Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, Garafil said.

Garafil said participants were “thrilled” when Marcos joined the “Online Kamustahan”.

Others who joined the virtual event were students and school representatives from Armenia Elementary School in Uson, Masbate; Bandera Elementary School in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur; Dioryong Integrated School in Nagtipunan, Quirino province; Villa Espina Elementary School in Lopez, Quezon; and Landang Laum Elementary School in Zamboanga City.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said the program helps build a "direct connection" between GIDAs and the government.

Pa-iigtingin po natin ito at gagawin ho nating mas marami ang koneksyon (We will ramp up our efforts to provide Internet connection to more [remote areas]),” Uy said.

One of the government’s accomplishments in terms of improving connectivity is the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All Program, the DICT reported.

Under the program, additional 628 operational free Wi-Fi sites were established, on top of the existing 4,129 sites.

There are now 4,757 total Wi-Fi sites nationwide.

At least 2.1 million unique users, equivalent to 100,000 families, have access to the government’s free internet services. (PNA)