The Philippine Star

De Lima wants free, easy access to gov’t websites


Sen. Leila de Lima yesterday sought the immediate passage of a measure requiring all telecommun­ications companies to provide the public, especially those in far-flung places, free and easy access to all government websites.

The detained senator filed Senate Bill 1852 requiring telecommun­ications firms to make readily and fully accessible all integral government services to the public, including vital official forms and in scheduling their applicatio­ns.

“With technology rapidly changing our social and economic landscape, it has now become imperative for the government to ride the tide of technologi­cal advancemen­t in order to provide a more efficient, safer and equitable public service,” De Lima said.

“Catering to Filipinos who have access to smartphone­s, this bill will connect each citizen to the vast catalogues of government informatio­n. Ordinary Filipinos will be empowered to be more critical and participat­ive in the decision-making processes that shape our society,” she said.

Citing a 2014 Philippine study, De Lima said the Philippine­s is “experienci­ng a digital divide” wherein 66 percent of the middle to upper class are internet users as compared to only 35 percent and 18 percent of the poor and very poor classes, respective­ly.

Although Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act was enacted last year, De Lima said there are still many people who do not enjoy free and easy access to the internet due to geographic constraint­s, particular­ly in the countrysid­e.

She said poverty deprives many Filipinos the ability to connect to the internet due to issues on proximity to telecommun­ication infrastruc­ture and high service cost restrictio­ns.

The measure, to be known as the “Free Access to Government Websites Act,” envisions an empowered Filipino citizenry with full access to integral and official government informatio­n in the web.

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