Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor on Friday urged the government to allocate funding for the construction of cell towers in remote areas in the country as preparation for the schools’ distance learning amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Defensor said Filipinos in far-flung areas should have access to a stable internet connection not only for learning but also for business and government operations.
“An efficient internet connection in far-flung areas is dependent on the number of cell towers available in the area. Telecommunications companies alone cannot produce the needed number of cell towers in those needy areas or “missionary sites”,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The lawmaker pointed out that the government must step in since private firms cannot be expected to prioritize “missionary cell towers” in their business plans.
“It is in those neglected areas not prioritized by the telcos that the government must give priority,” he said.
Defensor estimates the total cost of cell towers at P12 billion or P6 million per cell tower for 2,000 missionary areas.
He added the government could allow privately-owned telecommunication companies to rent the state-owned cell towers to recover the capital.
Education Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan earlier said that students and teachers are not mandated to buy laptops, desktop, and internet connection under the blended learning system for the school year 2020-2021. Students could avail of printed materials under the Modified Modular Distance Learning program.
Under the said program, the Department of Education (DepEd) would give self-learning packets in print or digital format to learners. At the same time, teachers would use mobile messenger chat or text messages to monitor and track the students.
The learning packets will include the following:
- alternative delivery mode and self-learning modules by DepEd
- modules/materials prepared by the Schools Division Office and schools
- worksheets prepared by teachers
- lesson guides for parents and guardians
- other supplies and materials such as notebooks, paper, ballpens, toys and manipulatives
- hygiene kits, which include alcohol, soap, towels, among others.