Senatorial bet's platform: A computer in every home

Senatorial bet’s platform: A computer in every home
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

WHILE MOST CANDIDATES bat for food on the table, one-time national broadband network proponent and now opposition senatorial bet Jose de Venecia III wants a computer for every Filipino home.

If elected to the Senate, De Venecia said he would work for government-subsidized and Internet-connected computers particularly for the poor.

“It’s a way to remove the gap between the rich and the poor,” he told the Inquirer over the phone.

De Venecia said personal computers were necessary household appliances like televisions, radios and electric fans.
Computers could put food on the table, he said, and having Internet access is like having books to read.

“In many countries in the West, home-based call centers have provided employment to millions. Why not here in the Philippines?” he said. “Our high school and college students can access a wealth of information by going online. They do not have to buy books or spend hours doing research in libraries if they can do it at home.”
De Venecia, who claims to be the pioneer of the Philippine call center industry, said the sector now employs 600,000 workers and could employ much more through home-based call centers similar to those in the United States and other countries.

“Furthermore, Internet-connected PCs are the best way for families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to stay in touch. They can talk through Skype, or Chat, or Twitter every day. This was unthinkable a mere decade ago,” he said.

De Venecia said a computers-for-families program had been started in a poor country like Uganda with the use of hundred-dollar (roughly P5,000-worth) laptops from Taiwan.

Cheap laptops

He said the cheap laptop could handle the requirements of a home-based call center or for the much-needed link between the Filipino migrant worker and his family.

“Once you have Internet access, that’s all you need. Everything can be done over the Internet,” De Venecia said referring to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) necessary for telephone communications.

He said the cost of P50 billion for 10 million laptops for many families could go down to as low as P35 billion with financial assistance from foundations of information technology companies like Microsoft and Oracle.

“Internet access wouldn’t be for free so we would be using the Internet service of telcos (telecommunication companies). They can also add to the subsidy,” De Venecia said.

The remainder of the cost, he added, could be sourced from a government loan.

“That would be part of the expenditures for education. The benefits would be exponential,” he said.

“The NBN-ZTE deal, in comparison, already costs P16 billion,” De Venecia said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

He said more than half of the contract cost of the national broadband deal with the Chinese firm ZTE would have gone to kickbacks.

De Venecia exposed the controversial contract in 2007 and linked President Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo to the
contract.

Ms Arroyo has since canceled the deal.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.