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Senator Grace Poe on Friday made a strong push for funding of the state-owned broadband network in a bid to improve the internet quality in the country and expand its coverage to benefit the citizenry.

At the Senate deliberation on the budget of the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT), Poe backed the request of the agency to give it the full P18 billion it needs for the completion and rollout of the National Broadband Program,

She said the program would fill in a critical need in the face of increasing dependence on connectivity and internet service due to the pandemic.

“Sa panahon ngayon talagang isa sa pinaka-importante ay ang internet natin kasi marami sa mga kababayan natin ay nagtatrabaho sa bahay,” said Poe.

“Marami ring estudyante kung hindi lahat, nasa bahay din nag-aaral,” the chairperson of the committee on public services said in her interpellation.

“Sana mas mabilis, sana mas mura at sana lahat meron. Sana all,” Poe added.

The senator said laying down crucial infrastructure for connectivity should not suffer budget cutbacks given its immense benefits to the people.

“Making internet readily accessible and affordable to all Filipinos means wider opening for information, service and opportunity that the internet holds,” Poe said.

Under the 2021 General Appropriations Bill, the DICT was allocated only P902 million for the broadband project. The House of Representatives’ version of the budget augmented it by P2 billion, while the Senate finance committee, in its report being discussed in plenary, added P3 billion more.

Poe rued the said 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.”

On her questioning, it was explained in plenary that the broadband project will be able to cover the connectivity needs of the entire bureaucracy, including local government units (LGUs).

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