Parliament passes digital inclusion ‘ONE Philippines Act’ on final reading

13 Feb 2019

The House of Representatives in the Philippines has unanimously approved House Bill 3437 (aka ONE Philippines Act), which seeks to provide for an online network establishment (ONE) policy for the country to reduce the digital divide and accelerate the rollout of more wireless communications technology across the country. House Bill 3437 passed on its third and final reading with 174 votes and sets out the state’s policy to recognise the vital role of information and communications technology in nation-building. Further, it should allow the government ‘to encourage investment in the countryside by providing the infrastructure necessary for the growth of information and communications technology’. In short, the ONE Philippines Act ‘seeks the widest participation of private groups, local government, and community-based organisations in the generation and utilisation of available technology’. Under the Bill, the government will look to develop a ‘comprehensive policy for the creation and establishment of Information and Communications Technology Centre (ICTC), or an Information Communications Technology Hub (ICT Hub), whichever is applicable, in every legislative district in the country with the end view of enhancing the access of every Filipino to information’. The Philippines has 81 provinces and once the ONE Philippines Act becomes law, at least 81 nodes can be established to promote development in each one. Furthermore, House Bill 3437 also empowers the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ‘to formulate and approve a national ICT Plan for the development of an information superhighway that will accelerate the establishment of ICTC or ICT Hub in every legislative district and barangay [small administrative division]’.