July 1-15, 2021

The Digital Rights Roundup, published by the Foundation for Media Alternatives, contains regular updates on what Filipinos need to know about their digital rights.

DITO Telecommunity bolsters footprint with 17 more covered areas

DITO Telecommunity has broadened its reach by adding 17 new areas, covering a total of 140 cities in the Philippines. It committed to produce an average internet speed of 27 Mbps, 37% coverage for its first year of operations. Read more here.

CSC grants gov’t eligibility to ICT professionals

According to the  Civil Service Commission (CSC), information and communications technology (ICT) professionals may now apply for Electronic Data Processing Specialist Eligibility (EDPSE), The CSC gives the EDPSE to passers of the proficiency test conducted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Read more here.

BIR exec says gov’t needs to craft policies, laws for digital taxation in PH

Amid the pandemic that gives rise to the acceleration of the digital economy, Marissa O. Cabreros, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) Legal Group, urges the government to take on a significant role in creating a regulatory and legal framework in taxing the digital economy. The current provisions of the Tax Code may no longer be applicable to recently developed business models. Read more here

IC warns of cyberattacks targeting insurers, HMOs

After pre-need firms and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the Philippines experienced distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and ransomware attacks that resulted in theft of data, the Insurance Commission (IC) has ordered all IC-regulated entities to reinforce their cyber defenses and to adhere to the Data Privacy Act. Read more here

DepEd already obligated, disbursed 90% of P4.35-B Bayanihan 2 funds for distance learning

Following the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines’ allegation of DepEd’s failure to allot P1.744-billion for distance learning needs, DepEd said it has disbursed 90% of the P4.35 billion funds under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. Read more here

School closures, unstable connections ‘compromise’ quality of education — students’ group

A report by the World Bank says that over 80% of Filipino students fall short of the minimum learning standard expected from their grade level. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that the quality of education in the Philippines is undermined as it has the longest closure of schools in the Asia-Pacific and numerous students lack adequate online learning resources. Read more here

Youth group finds Palace’s delayed reaction over students’ poor aptitude ‘more alarming’

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) notes that poor learning outcomes has been a long-standing problem that was aggravated by the pandemic. However, Malacañang only expressed its alarm after the World Bank’s report on the poor aptitude of Filipino students, which is more alarming for the NUSP. Read more here

No extension of voters’ registration – Comelec

September 30 is the final deadline for voters’ registration for next year’s elections, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon. The Comelec has also allocated over P204 million to acquire ballot papers and marking pens for the 2022 elections. Read more here

Government agencies, LGUs urged to enforce anti-piracy policy

The National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) is aiming at executing the Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Piracy Policy (ACAPP) in 50 national government agencies and 18 local government units by 2025. This is part of the NCIPR’s 2021-2025 goals of refining IP policy and legislation, awareness and enforcement. Read more here

Globe hits Mandaluyong barangay for prohibiting new cell sites

Regardless of the national government’s order to accelerate the progress of approving permits to construct more cell sites across the country, Barangay Plainview in Mandaluyong City forbids Globe’s construction and operation of cell sites. Alejandro M. Gozon, Globe senior legal counsel and head of litigation, urges Barangay Plainview to permit Globe to provide telecommunication services in the area. Read more here.

Solon warns US ban on Chinese firms may impair Dito services in PH

Solon warned that the banning of Dito Telecommunity Corp.’s second biggest stakeholder, China Telecom (Americas) Corp., in the United States could undermine the operations of Dito. A member of the Makabayan bloc in Congress said it would have an impact on the use of Dito’s mobile data network to access US-based websites. Read more here

Weak signal a problem for digital COVID-19 vax certificates

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is working on standardizing vaccination digital ID with QR (quick response) code for faster checkpoint operations as it could be used as a pass for interzonal travel. However, weak internet signals may be a problem, particularly outside Metro Manila. Read more here

PH sees cheaper internet by yearend

By yearend, there will be a decrease in internet rates and better access on account of supplemental open access fiber optic cables in the Philippines. With US$3 billion investment by the Philippines Fiber Optic Cable Network (PFOCN) for a 60,000 KM fiber cable network project, it is tagged as “the single most extensive cable network project in the Philippines todate.” Read more here.

Binay, Senate Economic Planning Office, hold webinar on open access in data transmission bill

The Senate Economic Planning Office and the Office of Sen. Nancy Binay held the webinar “Deleting the Digital Divide,” discussing the legislative proposal taking on open access in data transmission for a better information and communications technology infrastructure and to address the digital divide in the Philippines. Expectations on this legislative proposal include reaching a broader coverage, lower cost, and better quality of internet services. Read more here

New set of ‘Digital Cities’ eyeing to create 100,000 provincial jobs

By 2025, provinces outside Metro Manila aim to provide over 100,000 local jobs. 5-year ICT industry roadmaps were completed and launched in 9 out of 31 cities on July 8 to prepare for the digital economy. Read more here

Duterte among global ‘Press Freedom Predators’ in 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte is one of the 37 global leaders in Reporters Without Borders’ gallery of “press freedom predators” in 2021. The Philippines ranked 138th out of 180 countries in 2021 in the World Press Freedom Index and has steadily dropped during his term. Read more here

Workers call to vote out 70 lawmakers behind killing of ABS-CBN franchise

Defend Jobs Philippines urges the public to take note of the 70 lawmakers who killed ABS-CBN’s franchise application and to make the government pay for what they did to nearly half of ABS-CBN’s 11,071-strong workforce by voting out those lawmakers. Read more here

WB takes down controversial PH education report from website

Education Secretary Leonor Briones urged the World Bank to publicly apologize following its report showing the poor proficiency level of Filipino students. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said it is out of date since no recent assessments were carried out given the pandemic. Read more here.

DSWD to run after scammers posing as agency representatives

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) vowed to investigate the case of individuals who were pretending to be DSWD personnel to obtain personal information in return for financial assistance. DSWD justifies it does not take part in such activity in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012. Read more here

Philippine businesses likely to implement cybersecurity measures, upskill employee, poll says

The Digital Trust Index Report said the Philippines is expected to carry out online safety measures and upskill its employees through security training. In a survey by cybersecurity firm Okta, the percentage of Filipino respondents that said that their organizations have “implemented new security applications and technology” is above average and the highest in Asian participating countries. Read more here

As online scams jump, Pinoys urged to practice cyberhygiene

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) calls on Filipinos to practice cyberhygiene as cybercriminals persist in exploiting the shift in consumer behavior amid the pandemic. According to the Anti Cybercrime Group of the Philippines, online scams rose to 869 cases from January to September 2020 or 37% increase as compared to cases in the same period in 2019. Read more here

ARTA pushes for possible gov’t online data sharing

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is insisting on integrating data on birth, death, and marriage, etc. among government agencies for faster and simpler transactions while securing data privacy. Read more here

PhilSys online registration hits 37.2 million, on track to reach 50-70 million

Approximately 37.2 million Filipinos registered for the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) online as of July, with 16.2 million registrants for the biometrics capture at designated registration centers. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the Philippines is on course with its goal of having 50-70 million PhilSys registrants by the end of the year. Read more here

SC now requires law enforcers to wear body cameras in implementation of warrants

To ensure the protection of fundamental rights, law enforcers involved in arrest and search warrants will be ordered to wear at least 2 recording devices, a body-worn camera and another recording device, according to the Supreme Court. The body camera should come with at least 720p resolution with an 8-hour battery life. Read more here

Singapore AI startup launches Covid-19 tracker in the Philippines

Sqreem Technologies, a Singapore-based AI solutions startup, launched a real time Covid-19 data tracker called “Data Natin,” consisting of the availability of hospital beds and ventilators by zip code to aid in logistics planning. Read more here

Only 30 pct jabbed: Philippines struggles to vaccinate elderly due to fake news

The Department of Health (DOH) said only 8.90% of senior citizens have been fully protected against COVID-19 while 29.32% have been inoculated with their first dose. Filipino senior citizens are doubtful of vaccines because of fake news about it. Read more here

PCOO confirms hiring 375 contractuals, says they are not ‘trolls’

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Kris R. Ablan affirmed that their office hired 375 contractual employees, costing P70 million in 2020. The PCOO disproves the allegations that these employees work as trolls and justifies that they are social media specialists who are graphic artists making social media cards, infographics, etc. Read more here

UPLB study shows Filipino students’ struggle amid shift to online learning

A study by University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) said Filipino students are equipped with proper computer and internet skills but the Department of Science and Technology said they lack preparedness with regard to learner control. The study also highlighted the significance of teachers in attaining learning outcomes. Read more here

2022 elections a ‘game changer’; campaigns to be reliant on social media — Guanzon

The pandemic gives rise to candidates’ reliance on social media campaigns for the 2022 national elections. Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said this would pose a challenge to Comelec in tracking campaign expenditure. Read more here

Gatchalian bats for stronger crackdown on human trafficking despite Tier 1 status

Senator Win Gatchalian backed the need for a stronger government crackdown on all forms of human trafficking regardless of Tier 1 Status retention, for meeting the minimum standards on the elimination of trafficking in the Philippines. Read more here

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The UP Internet Freedom Network (UP INTERNET) is an alliance of students and volunteers advocating for internet freedom. You may e-mail them at upinternet.org@protonmail.com for inquiries.

DOWNLOAD: On issues of internet access, cybersecurity measures, and vaccine rollout: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (July 1-15, 2021)

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