Voting 18-0-0, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act (Senate Bill 1277), establishing a program that seeks to provide free access to Internet services in public places in the country.
“Madali nang magagamit ng ating mga mag-aaral ang Internet para sa kanilang pag-aaral; mas mapapadalas na ang pagtawag ng mga pamilya sa kanilang mga kamag-anak na OFW sa ibang bansa; at marami nang makakagamit ng mga pampublikong serbisyo ng gobyerno na kailangan ng koneksyon sa Internet (Students can now easily access the Internet for their studies; families can now frequently contact their loved ones abroad; and public government services requiring Internet connectivity can now be accessed by many),” said Pangilinan, principal author of the bill.
In SB 1277, public places and government offices to be provided with free internet access shall include the following:
· National and local government offices
· Public basic education institutions
· State universities and colleges
· Public hospitals and health centers
· Public parks, plazas, and libraries
· Public airports and seaports
· Public transport terminals
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) shall be the lead agency to implement the Free Public Internet Access Program and setting standards and qualifications in determining the public spaces and government offices to be included and prioritized.
“Ang pag-provide natin ng libreng Internet access sa ating publiko ay isang hakbang upang gawing makabago ang Internet connectivity sa ating bansa. Pinapasalamatan natin si Sen. Bam Aquino sa kanyang pagtulak na mabilisang maipasa ang mahalagang panukalang batas na ito sa Senado (Providing free wireless Internet access to our public is a step toward modernizing our country’s Internet connectivity. We thank Sen. Bam Aquino for pushing for the speedy passage of this landmark piece of legislation in the Senate),” Pangilinan said.
According to House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, the free Internet access counterpart bill in the House of Representatives is set to be approved on second reading on March 15. He added that the said bill is set to be approved on third and final reading when session resumes on May 2.
The senators who voted in favor of the passage of the bill were Senators Aquino, Binay, Drilon, Escudero, Ejercito, Gatchalian, Gordon, Honasan, Hontiveros, Lacson, Pacquiao, Pangilinan, Poe, Recto, Sotto, Trillanes, Villar, and Zubiri.
The Free Wi-Fi bill is among the first 10 priority pieces of legislation filed by Pangilinan for the 17th Congress which also includes the Free Higher Education Bill, Maternity Leave Bill, Coco Levy Trust Fund Bill, among others.