Senator Grace Poe expressed her support for the Department of Information Communications Technology’s (DICT) request for the full P18-billion budget it needs to roll out the National Broadband Program (NBP) in the Philippines.
“Sa panahon ngayon talagang isa sa pinaka-importante ay ang internet natin kasi marami sa mga kababayan natin ay nagtatrabaho sa bahay. Marami ring estudyante kung hindi lahat, nasa bahay din nag-aaral. Sana mas mabilis, sana mas mura at sana lahat meron. Sana all,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services.
Stressing that a crucial infrastructure for connectivity should not suffer budget cutbacks given its immense benefits to the people, the senator added: “Making internet readily accessible and affordable to all Filipinos means wider opening for information, service, and opportunity that the internet holds.”
Under the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the DICT was allocated only P902 million for the NBP. The House of Representatives’ version of the budget augmented it by P2 billion, while the Senate finance committee added P3 billion more.
Poe lamented that the amounts still fall short of the P18 billion requirement for the full implementation of the project, emphasizing that the original allocation of less than P1 billion “almost did not recognize its significance.”
The DICT affirmed that the government would save up around P34 billion in internet expenses by 2025 if Congress augments the budget for the NBP. The agency explained that the project would be able to cover the connectivity needs of the entire bureaucracy, including local government units (LGUs).
“P34 billion ang matitipid natin, ang hinihingi lang nila (DICT) ay P18 billion, bawing-bawi na kaagad ‘yung hinihingi nilang funding kaya ibigay na natin. We cannot rely on telcos (telecommunications companies) alone. If we can actually get the telcos to use state infrastructure, that would mean extra income for the government,” the senator added.