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Roque: Connect IPs to Internet

UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque said the indigenous peoples (IP) and cultural communities should not be left behind in the country’s march towards “digital nationhood.”

Roque, the principal author of the Free wi-fi Act, said that more significant infrastructure and investments in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) would address cultural, educational, and governance divisions across the nation.

He said the ICT advancement would contribute to IP and indigenous cultural communities’ human capital development and governance initiatives.

Roque, a former party-list representative n the House of Representatives, vowed to revive the “Indigenous Peoples Connectivity Act” if he wins in the May elections.

“We can only realize a true digital Philippine nation if we adhere to the promotion and enjoyment of human rights on the internet as stipulated in the 2016 UN Human Rights Council resolution,” Roque said.

Originally filed as House Bill 2931, the measure promotes affordable and universal ICT access among IP and ICC in their localized areas.

“We have to fast-track our digital backbone and broadband technology modernization,” Roque said, noting the snail-paced activation of wi-fi sites under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-backed “Wi-fi For All” project.

The proposed measure awards block grants and technical assistance grants to eligible recipients such as IP organizations, ICCs, and private or public institution of higher education that has an agreement with IP and ICC.

Roque expressed disappointment that less than 1,000 sites have been installed from 2018 to 2021 under the project.

“Our interconnectedness, especially in this time of the pandemic, was impacted because of this,” he said.

In 2018, the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the UNDP US$ 24.4 million financing agreement and project initiation plan.

The UNDP claimed that the project’s delay was due to commercial challenges the contractor and its sub-contractor faced apart from pandemic-related restrictions.


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