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Nat’l broadband network proposed

The botched national broadband network program is likely to make a comeback under the Duterte administration.
The government is considering building a national broadband network to improve Internet services especially in remote areas in the country.

The broadband proposal was discussed in the Cabinet meeting held by President Duterte last Monday amid complaints on the services given by private telecommunication companies, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

“Napag-usapan din iyong Internet, mga telco na solusyunan ni (Information and Communications Technology) Secretary (Rodolfo) Salalima. Maganda iyong kanilang solusyon, meron silang national broadband na solusyon,” Andanar said in a radio interview.

“And there are two ways to do it: Either you create it yourself, iyong gobyerno pero napakamahal, magtatayo ka ng sarili mong parang telco or the other one is to provide for the areas na wala pa iyong pribado,” he added.

In areas without Internet connection, Andanar said fiber optic cables and cell sites must be established to strengthen the digital service.

Asked why the government may venture in telecoms, Andanar said: “Bakit gobyerno kasi, parang ang ano kasi, ang pakiramdam kasi ay parang short changed sa services.”

Andanar wondered why telcos were not improving their services or at least providing Internet connection in far-flung areas in the country. “Pero iyong kuwestyun nga doon eh iyong monopoly eh bakit hindi nila punan lahat ng mga kulang,” he said.

The Arroyo administration forged a controversial broadband deal with a Chinese telecoms firm in 2007 to improve the country’s telecoms network.

The $329-million NBN-ZTE agreement, however, was cancelled by then President Arroyo following allegations of corruption involving the contract. The contract was supposedly overpriced while some officials allegedly received kickbacks.

Arroyo faced a graft complaint in connection with the contract but the Sandiganbayan recently dropped the case due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has not yet received any official word about the cancellation of the visit of Princess Astrid of Belgium to the Philippines but will respect her decision if she indeed skips the trip.

“She has her own standards by which she has to act,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press briefing. “We respect her values, we respect her position,” Abella added.

Reports said the Belgian Princess might cancel her mission to the Philippines in May 2017 following Duterte’s comments about Adolf Hitler.

Duterte earlier said he was happy to slaughter three million drug addicts just like Hitler killed millions of Jews.

The President has apologized for his mistake, saying he did not mean to derogate memory of the Holocaust victims. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)