TEN ORGANIZATIONS signed a joint statement urging Congress, particularly the Senate, to expedite the passage of the proposed Open Access in Internet Services Act.

“An Open Access law is critical to supporting the Marcos administration’s goal of promoting universal, seamless, and secure connectivity for Filipinos,” the groups said in their joint statement.

“We call on the 19th Congress to approve Open Access to make the Philippines a truly digital nation,” they said. “Through this joint statement of support, we are optimistic that the Senate will fast-track the approval of this bill and that the President will sign this landmark legislation into law.”

The organizations said the bill lowers barriers to entry for internet network operators by simplifying the registration and qualification process and makes broadband deployment faster and more efficient through infrastructure-sharing and streamlined permit approvals.

The signatories were the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Internet Society-Philippine Chapter, the Fintech Alliance, the Philippine Cable and Television Association, Inc. (PCTA), the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, the Foundation for Media Alternatives, Democracy.Net.PH, and Better Internet PH.

The organizations said that the “major challenges in internet access, quality, and affordability are affecting the digitalization of the Philippines.”

“The Open Access bill is a curative law that will address the legal obstacles and binding constraints, which have long stifled the growth of the Philippines’ internet industry,” they added.

Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos, lead advocate for Better Internet PH, said that although the joint memorandum circulars issued by the Anti-Red Tape Authority helped in the rollout of telecommunication infrastructure, “a law needs to be institutionalized.”

“Unfortunately, these policies have expired because they do have sunset clauses. And now it is needed to institutionalize these reforms and initiatives that have been started,” she said.

PCTA Chairman Cedric M. Sazon said that the industry and regulators need to collaborate in advancing accessible and affordable internet service.

“The Open Access bill is not just an abstract concept; it is a concrete solution to the pressing issues faced by our industry by lowering barriers to market entry, simplifying registration processes, and promoting infrastructure sharing,” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile