Now, more than ever, education is facing a greater challenge in addressing the gap of teaching-learning continuity because of the current state of health risks not only in the Philippines but all over the world. Philippines education set up would have been different had we invested heavily in the digital world years back.
Internet signal has been an issue not only in the education sector but in all sectors. Communication and information dissemination now requires a larger scale of internet and signal access. With difficult experience to access internet signal, how do we insure the continuity of learning without compromising the health and safety standards of both learners and teachers? What is the digital future of our youth?
From the paper entitled 'An Overview of Internet Governance and Infrastructure in the Philippines'
The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands spread over 300,000 square kilometres, with a population of more than 100 million people. After a 425-year history of colonialism and a traumatic period of authoritarianism (that ended in 1986), the country has emerged as a democracy that continues to experience political upheaval and economic boom and bust.
The Philippines formally connected to the Internet in 1994, but even today the Internet remains largely unregulated.1 While national plans champion ICTs for their socio-economic potential, governance has been unevenly distributed because of limited state capacity and resources, and regulatory capture by dominant market players. It comes as no surprise that the access rate for the majority of the population remains low, with estimates for Internet usage hovering at about 40% of the population. Mobile penetration is high at 101%,2 and yet at 30%, smartphone penetration in the Philippines is relatively low.
By law (Republic Act No. 7925), Internet service delivery is anchored on telecommunications networks that, in turn, are controlled almost exclusively by two monolithic companies: the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, or the PLDT group—which also owns providers such as Smart, Talk n Text, and Sun Cellular—and Globe Telecom, Inc. These two companies also own most of the Internet infrastructure in the country, allowing them to dictate the cost, quality, and extent of Internet connectivity.
Entering the country’s telecommunications industry is a cumbersome process. Anyone interested in conducting such a business must first obtain a franchise through Congress.10 The constitution mandates that telecommunications firms—considered a public utility—must be principally owned (60%) by Filipino nationals.11 On top of that, various other licences and permits from different government agencies, including local government units, must be secured. Globe Telecom’s senior vice president for technical services, Emmanuel Estrada, said that telecommunication companies “need to secure an average of twenty-five permits at the local government level”—a process that takes at least eight months to complete—to build a single cell site.12 Philippine’s Internet, however, has been able to thrive in such a limited environment. The country was dubbed the “text messaging capital of the world” in the early 2000s,13 and has been known as the global “social media capital”14 and “selfie capital.”
The Philippine government recognizes the important role of ICTs in people’s lives. The 1987 constitution establishes the framework for the state’s responsibility in harnessing the potential of ICTs. It states that the government recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation building, and declares science and technology essential for national development and progress.72 It also tasks the state to “regulate the transfer and promote the adaptation of technology for the national benefit,”73 thereby placing policy development and governance of ICTs well within the state’s ambit of interest. Yet the government has been inconsistent in its implementation of this mandate. The local political context, internal capacity issues, and shifting realities that affect ICT policy and Internet governance are but a few of the underlying reasons.
Technology has outpaced policy on many levels. This situation has sometimes led to confusing and even conflicting policy responses from government. With social media, for example, government agencies have had different views on how the state should regulate—and even use—social media tools.77 When the Cybercrime Protection Act was put forward, there was a clash between online regulation and Internet rights, particularly on the issue of online libel. When the Supreme Court was forced to decide on the act’s constitutionality,78 Internet policy-making was essentially left in the hands of elderly justices, few of whom understood the complexities of cyberspace. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that the controversial provision on online libel is constitutional, a decision that many netizens protested by posting tweets using the #NonLibelousTweet hashtag.
There are a number of key legislative instruments that affect the current Internet governance landscape. The Philippines has signed and ratified the following key international treaties: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Optional Protocol (OP) to the ICCPR; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); OPCEDAW; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; Convention Against Torture; and UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.