MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a proposed measure that seeks free public wireless Internet access in national and local government offices, state higher education institutions, and public areas.
Under House Bill 1550 or the Free Public Wi-Fi Act, the public will have free Wi-Fi in national government offices, municipal halls and provincial capitols, state universities and colleges, public parks and plazas, public hospitals and public transportation terminals.
“The Free Public Wi-Fi Act seeks to move government one step forward in providing democratic access to the Internet,” Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, principal author of HB 1550, said in his explanatory note to the bill.
Ridon said that the government “has to recognize that the Internet is an important mechanism in delivering some of its services, and a valuable tool for people’s participation in governance and in democracy.”
“One way to foster this democratic participation is by at least provide the people access to the Internet in many, if not all, of our government buildings and public establishments,” he said.
Business groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (Amcham) had earlier expressed support for the bill, and pushed for its passage as a “valuable public sector contribution.”
The Amcham had said that “higher Internet penetration will bring a wealth of benefits to Filipinos and efficiencies for the economy, reducing business costs and helping the economy to become more competitive and meet its Millennium Development Goals.”
On the part of the government, the Department of Science and Technology will begin implementation of its free Wi-Fi access across the country in July.
Funded under the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the DOST project will prioritize lower-income municipalities. (READ: Free Philippine Wi-Fi initiative set for July) – Rappler.com