Senator Bam Aquino has reminded the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) not to leave public schools including state universities and colleges (SUCs) behind as it prepares to rollout Republic Act (RA) 10929, otherwise known as the Free Internet Access Program in Public Places Law.

Aquino is the principal sponsor and co-author of the law, which aims to grant Filipino students access to free wifi in public places, knowing that it can be used as a vital tool to further enrich their knowledge.

“Internet is an important tool in learning. Students are empowered by the internet in learning lessons, completing assignments, and research,” said the legislator, who pushed for the enactment of the measure as chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

“Magagamit din ito ng ating mga guro para mapabuti ang kanilang mga sistema ng pagtuturo,” the lawmaker added.

RA 10929 provides free internet access in all national and local government offices, public schools, public transport terminals, public hospitals and public libraries.

“This will expand internet access across public spaces in the Philippines, including public schools to aid in teaching methods and enhance learning,” the youthful senator said.

In addition, the law contains provisions for the faster processing of permits for internet infrastructure, which is designed to fast-track the improvement in the country’s internet backbone.

As part of its mandate under the law, the DICT is tasked to craft a plan and a timeline for the rollout of the program. In its latest report, the agency said it is planning to establish 250,000 wifi access points in public places throughout the country until 2022.

During his stint as chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship in the 16th Congress, Aquino spearheaded an investigation into the slow and expensive internet in the country.

The probe helped determine needed legislations to address the internet problem in the country and led to the release of a Department of Justice opinion on telco advertising.

The hearing also compelled the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to come out with guidelines on minimum internet speeds and conducted speed testing in various areas of the Philippines to check the compliance of telcos.

Aquino also filed Senate Bill No. 171 or the Open Access in Data Transmission Act of 2016, which has yet to be passed into law to enable more players into and promote competition in the internet industry.

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