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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Senator Imee Marcos has scored the Duterte administration’s “lack of urgency in improving the slow internet speed in the country” amid a clear global shift to digital solutions that could keep life going in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs called on the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to “step up to the call of the times” and make sure that digital infrastructure gains the same priority as public works and transportation projects in the government’s Build-Build-Build program.

“Let’s level up, DICT! The Philippines is Asia’s laggard when it comes to internet speed, at only 3.5 mbps. Upgrading the country’s digital capacity is urgent and long overdue,” said Marcos.

Marcos is also seeking an update over the supposed entry of a third telco player under Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s DITO-Mislatel Telecom as the public eagerly await the progress report on the timelines of DICT’s programs.

She noted that Internet speed in smaller neighboring economies like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia is faster than in the Philippines, with highly developed states like Singapore and Hong Kong 19 to 22 times faster, according to the Ookla Net Index—known worldwide for its tests on internet performance.

Marcos warned that a slow internet speed plus limited online access equals “a sluggish economy and a sorry standard of living,” as cited that many localities in the country remain untouched by the internet connectivity.

“A robust digital economy is our hope for a post-COVID future!” she said

Marcos stressed that the government’s success in contact tracing, online education, e-commerce and e-jobs, and even crime-busting and future elections will depend greatly on reliable digital infrastructure.

“The reception to proposed taxes on online businesses could have also been warmer if entrepreneurs were already assured of digital support,” said Marcos.

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