Lawmaker seeks free wi-fi as aid to corruption fight

AS THE impeachment case of Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez is well underway in Congress, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino filed House Bill no. 4271 or the “Free Public Wi-Fi Act”  seeking to provide free wi-fi access in government institutions to widen the space for the “people’s participation in clean governance and democracy.”

“The various corruption cases hurled at government officials indeed necessitate a revitalization of the people’s democratic participation in clean governance and in democracy. We from the government have to recognize that the internet is one important mechanism in encouraging that participation,” Palatino said.

“Notwithstanding the issue of the mass accessibility and availability of personal electronic devices, one way to foster this democratic participation is by providing the people access to the internet in our government buildings and public establishments,” he said.

Palatino also said that proving free wi-fi in government institutions will also encourage people to visit and consider these institutions as public spaces where they can assemble and converge for discussions, engage government officials, and strengthen democratic processes.

Once the bill is passed, wireless internet connection shall be installed and be made 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.

The bill also stipulates that no restrictions in the form of passwords and other similar mechanisms, and that no fee in whatever amount shall be imposed with regard to access to the free public wi-fi network.

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