The government must invest in youth education through efficient internet connectivity, Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said Thursday.
Defensor said in times like this when digital media becomes a necessity to override the lingering threats of COVID-19, internet services must not only serve the privileged class in urban centers.
“Internet connectivity must also be efficient in the so-called missionary areas so that students in far-flung areas will not be left behind in the hybrid classes being introduced by the education department,” said the congressman, who co-authored a pandemic response bill seeking to amend the law called Bayanihan to Heal as One.
Defensor also said efficient internet connectivity is a must now in rural areas whose economies are beaten badly by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Under the new normal, local government leaders must need efficient connectivity for their effective governance and also for the productive engagements of their business sectors,” stressed Defensor.
He said, however, that efficient internet connectivity in far-flung areas is dependent on the number of cell towers available in the area.
Defensor took it as a matter of fact that telcos alone cannot produce the needed number of cell towers in those needy areas called “missionary sites” in a much-needed time like this pandemic.
“It is for this reason that I am pushing for the funding by the government on digital infrastructure, particularly on cell sites in missionary areas,” the solon said.
He explained that for obvious reasons, telcos will not prioritize the construction of “missionary cell towers” in their business plans.
“It is in those neglected areas, or missionary sites, which are not prioritized by the telcos that the government must give priority as an investment for the education of our young generation,” said Defensor.
He added that the telcos will be allowed to rent the state-owned cell towers for the recovery and profit of the public funds invested in missionary cell sites and other digital infrastructures.
Defensor estimated the initial government investment at P12 billion for some 2,000 missionary cell sites, which reportedly cost an average of P6 million per tower.