State universities may get P280-million budget for free Wi-Fi

MANILA, Philippines – The government is allotting P280 million to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) nationwide under the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019. 

Makati City 2nd District Representative Luis Campos welcomed this budget allotment in a statement on Sunday, August 12.  

"We are counting on highly improved password-free internet networks in SUCs to advance opportunities for learning and research, especially in their campuses in the provinces," he said. 

The lawmaker said the funds for SUCs' free internet access is lodged under the proposed budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, which is also allotting another P1.16 billion to fund 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in public places across the country. 

The passage of the 2019 budget has encountered a "temporary setback," however, as lawmakers opposed the cash-based budgeting system that the Department of Budget and Management and the Development Budget Coordination Committee are proposing for next year. (READ: House suspends 2019 budget hearings 'until further notice'

A cash-based budgeting system means that agencies have to spend their funds and implement their projects within the fiscal year. 

Implementing government agencies are obliged to complete their project contracts by the end of 2019 regardless of obstacles like natural calamities which may cause delays. Projects whose completion a government agency cannot guarantee would be removed from the proposed budget.

Commission on Higher Education Officer-in-Charge Prospero de Vera III already said the cash-based budgeting system would "severely hamper" the implementation of the free tuition law because the fiscal year and the academic year are not aligned. 

In June, Ookla's Speedtest Global Index reported that Philippine mobile download speeds were at 14.01 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds were at 5.99 Mbps.

These remain well below the global averages of 22.61 Mbps for download speeds and 9.10 Mbps for upload speeds. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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