Press Release
May 31, 2020


Sen. Grace Poe urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call on all concerned national and local government officials to address all obstacles to the building of cell sites across the country--to pave the way for inclusive and reliable connectivity and e-learning for students even in far-flung areas amid the pandemic.

"Nananawagan tayo sa ating Pangulo na pakilusin ang mga sanhi ng balakid sa pagtatayo ng mga kinakailangang imprastraktura para maabot ng makabagong edukasyon ang ating mga kabataang nangangarap na umunlad sa buhay (We appeal to the President to put to task all sources or causes of delay in the construction of the necessary infrastructure to enable us to connect effectively with our students who are aspiring for better lives)," the chairperson of the Senate committee on public services said.

Earlier, the Department of Information and Communications Technology raised the lack of infrastructure in the country, citing that only about 20,000 towers have been built compared with Vietnam's 70,000.

"We need as much towers as we can have, which are compliant to safety and environmental standards," said Poe, noting that around 50,000 cell sites have yet to be constructed.

Poe said it is guaranteed in the Constitution that the State shall give priority to education and technology to "accelerate social progress and promote total human development."

In a recent Speedtest Global Index, internet speed in the Philippines was still among the slowest at 21 mbps compared with the global average of 74.74 mbps, ranking it 110th out of 174 countries.

Poe earlier supported an inclusive common cell tower policy that will enable competition leading to faster connectivity and lower rates.

The senator hopes that the push of the President will help expedite the processes necessary to build connectivity, following his intervention in a number of issues raised by affected stakeholders.

Poe is co-author of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act, which mandates local government units to streamline the approval of permits and licenses necessary for building cell towers.

Essential telecommunications work, including the construction of cell sites, has been allowed even during the lockdown, under the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 guidelines.

Poe also called on telcos and internet providers to partner with the government in supporting the online education of students amid the latter's lack of resources and tools.

"Many children lack the most basic needs, including tools and resources to learn amid the pandemic. Our students need all the support so that no one is left behind," Poe said.

"Ayaw nating lahat na masadlak sa kawalan ng kinabukasan at kapariwaraan ang ating mga kabataang kailangang manatili sa tahanan sa gitna ng pandemya. Tiyakin natin ang kanilang pag-usad sa kaalaman at kakayahan (We do not want our children to wallow in the lack of opportunities and make them more vulnerable to abuses. It is crucial to guarantee their increasing competitiveness in carving our country's future)," added Poe, a child advocate.

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