Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino today hit President Benigno Aquino III for his professed “internet for all” and “e-governance” commitment while “misallocating” a P1.16 billion budget for telegrams and disposing zero budget for the procurement of computers and internet equipment.
In today’s Congress budget hearing, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo said that President Aquino has set e-governance, internet for all, and support for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry as the priority areas of the department.
“President Aquino’s ICT programs such as because of the mismatch in his funding priority. The seemingly modern and technological framework of the DOST is undercut by the misallocated P1.16-B budget for telegrams and zero budget for the Capital Outlay of the NCC, which could be used for the procurement of computers and internet equipment,” Palatino said.
Of DOST’s proposed 2012 budget of P9.35 billion, P1.16-B is allocated for its Telegraph Office while zero budget is allocated for the Capital Outlay of its National Computer Center (NCC), the lead government agency for promoting the strategic use of ICT.
“If President Aquino understands the importance and potential of ICT in good governance, I do not understand why he seemingly prioritizes the funding of telegrams instead of ensuring people’s access to information technology. I hope the President will review his ICT programs. It would be unfortunate if the benefits of ICT will not be realized due to misdirected funding,” he added.
Early this year, Palatino filed in Congress House Bill no. 4271 or the “Free Public Wi-Fi Act” which aims to make “free internet connection available in buildings of all government-related offices including regional and satellite offices, municipal halls, provincial capitols, state universities and colleges, public parks and plazas, public hospitals and public transportation terminals such as airports and bus stations.”
In a report released June this year, the United Nations listed internet access as a basic human right, saying that it is “…one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies.”
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