Miriam asks Senate to check status of free Wi-Fi program


SENATOR Miriam Santiago on Friday called on her colleagues to look first into the status of the P3-billion nationwide free Wi-Fi project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) before granting the proposed additional funding for the project.

Santiago was referring to the additional P1.6 billion funding the DOST is asking Congress for the continuation of the Free Internet Connectivity in Public Places program, which seeks to establish internet hotspots in 7,917 public high schools, 38,694 public elementary schools, 113 state colleges, 1,118 public libraries, public spaces in 1,490 towns.

Congress, through the initiative of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, allotted P1.4 billion in 2015 for the DOST to start the program.

The nationwide free Wi-Fi project costs P3 billion and the DOST vowed to complete the program by the end of 2016.

Santiago wants the Senate to make sure the free Internet program is on track and that funds allotted for the project are utilized properly.

The feisty Senator made the call after following the report of the Commission on Audit (COA) about the underspending committed by DOST in 2014.

Santiago, author of the Magna Carta for Internet Freedom, is also planning to file a resolution asking the proper senate committee to conduct an inquiry into the P827.6 million underspending in 2014 by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) of the DOST.

According to COA, the bulk of the unused funds were earmarked for the Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) Project, which would have set up a shared network among offices delivering common services, and the Philippines Community eCenter (CeC) Program.

“Government efforts to pursue ICT projects are laudable. We cannot lag behind other countries on that front. But before the government can even dream of implementing big-ticket projects, it must improve the capacity of responsible agencies,” Santiago said in a statement.

Santiago pointed out that the DOST is asking for the additional funding on the P3-billion project when it failed to implement several projects in 2014 worth less than a million.

“Of course Internet-loving Filipinos want free Wi-Fi, but can the DOST deliver on its promises?” the senator asked.

For this year, the DOST targets to set up 967 3rd to 6th class towns in Metro Manila access points and “points of presence” in six Luzon, four Visayas, and four Mindanao cities.

To date, 14 cities and about 100 municipalities enjoy the free Wi-Fi service.

The DOST is proposing a total budget of P17.9 billion for 2016, which includes the P1.6 billion for the nationwide free Wi-Fi project next year.



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  1. Wi Fi in the schools is a disaster. Constant screen viewing hampers brain development, cognition and the biological effects of chronic microwave exposure may cause cancer, neurological problems, blood brain barrier permeability, reproductive harm, etc. There are now over a dozen sperm studies that confirm sperm damage from using a laptop. Microwave radiation from Wi-Fi routers was classified a Class 2B carcinogen by the W.H.O. in 2011. None of these microwave emitting devices were ever pre-market safety tested. When we measured the microwave exposure in my daughter’s school it was 50x’s higher than standing 100 feet from a cell tower. Science confirms this but the 4 trillion dollar telecommunications industry buys scientists, media and members of high profile agencies. Industry money is the second highest source of revenue that the U.S. “Government” has. How can it be that the FCC is funding this disaster and is also in charge of regulating microwave exposures of wireless devices. Exposure levels in the US are 100 x’s higher than levels in Russia and China. What do they know about harm that we are not telling??? 34 Scientific Studies Related to Exposure to Microwave Radiation from Wi-Fi