DBM releases P2.5B for Free Public Internet Access Program

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

February 15, 2024, 5:57 pm

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

(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has granted the release of almost PHP2.5 billion to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for the implementation of the Free Public Internet Access Program (FPIAP).

In a statement on Thursday, the DBM said Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman approved the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) amounting to almost PHP2.5 billion on Feb. 5.

“The disbursement encompasses the implementation of locally-funded projects that include the Free Public Internet Access Program,” the DBM said.

“From the budget, over PHP2.4 billion will be earmarked for free internet WiFi connectivity in public places. The remaining PHP50 million, on the other hand, goes to connectivity concerns for State Universities and Colleges (SUC),” it added.

The FPIAP aims to provide zero-cost internet access in public spaces nationwide.

The public areas covered under the program include convergence points such as national and government offices, public basic education institutions, SUCs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions, public hospitals, medical care facilities, plazas and transport terminals.

The DBM said Pangandaman also approved the release of the corresponding Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) for the first quarter amounting to PHP356.2 million for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of the DICT-Office of the Secretary (OSEC).

It said the funds are chargeable against the Free Public Internet Access Fund—Special Accounts in the General Fund under the fiscal year 2024 Automatic Appropriations.

Pangandaman said the release of the funding is crucial in improving connectivity in the country, considering that “the internet is central to our emerging new age – the digital era.”

“It is the backbone of our modern world. It connects us and makes everything more convenient, powering education, economy, health care, public safety, and even government services,” she said.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration strives to make network connectivity more available for everyone, especially for our public servants and students. Sa Bagong Pilipinas (Under the New Philippines), we are united as Filipino people both physically and online,” Pangandaman added. (PNA)