April 22, 2024

The Department of Budget and Management has granted the release of almost P2.5 billion to the Department of Information and Communications Technology for the implementation of the Free Public Internet Access Program (FPIAP).

In a statement, the DBM said Sec. Amenah Pangandaman approved the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) amounting to almost P2.5B on Feb. 5.

“From the budget, over P2.4B will be earmarked for free internet WiFi connectivity in public places. The remaining P50 million goes to connectivity concerns for state universities and colleges,” it added.

The FPIAP aims to provide zero-cost internet access in public spaces nationwide.

The public areas covered under the program include convergence points such as national and government offices, public basic education institutions, SUCs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority institutions, public hospitals, medical care facilities, plazas and transport terminals.

The DBM said Pangandaman also approved the release of the corresponding Notice of Cash Allocation for the first quarter amounting to P356.2M for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses of the DICT-Office of the Secretary (OSEC).

It said the funds are chargeable against the Free Public Internet Access Fund-Special Accounts in the General Fund under the fiscal year 2024 Automatic Appropriations.

Pangandaman said the release of the funding is crucial in improving connectivity in the country, considering that “the internet is central to our emerging new age – the digital era.”

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s administration strives to make network connectivity more available for everyone, especially for our public servants and students. Sa Bagong Pilipinas, we are united as Filipino people both physically and online,” Pangandaman added. – PNA