Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao has committed to shoulder the cost of operations for the 13 channels that the government will use for distance learning.
In an emailed statement Monday, Pacquiao said the move comes as students from far-off places have a hard time securing internet connection for online learning, while some have no means to acquire the necessary gadgets.
"Alam ko din na hindi pa 100% coverage 'yang internet natin sa Pilipinas, kaya kahit me pambili ka ng laptop o gadget, hindi ka pa din nakakasiguro na aabot sa 'yo ang mga aralin buhat sa DepEd," he said.
The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier moved the opening of the school year 2020-2021 to October 5 from August 24, amid the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sa tulong ng mga nasa industriya ng telecommunications, nagawan namin ng paraan para may magamit na 13 TV channels ang DepEd nang walang gastos sa gobyerno at mga estudyante. Kaya wala nang dahilan para hindi matuloy ang pag-aaral ng mga bata ngayong darating na pasukan," said Pacquiao.
The senator's office said the proposal has been submitted to DepEd. It added that Tim Orbos is heading the program.
"On the cost - again no cost to gov't. But if one would pay for it : National broadcast at 13 channels/10 M for 8 hrs/day× 20 days/month would cost millions monthly. In our case, our satellite transmission is at the disposal of the senator for the project covering utlizing our excess bandwidth. His friends are helping out shouldering other costs," Orbos said in a message relayed by Pacquiao's office.
Data from DepEd said there have been over 24 million students that have enrolled for the upcoming school year.
However, those from the poor and marginalized sectors have expressed concern over the shift to blended learning, given the difficulty to afford a stable internet connection and the lack of the necessary gadgets.
The DepEd has since rolled out television programs for students, with 27 professional teachers hired to serve as broadcasters.
Last month, one of the segments of the English lessons—particularly for the eighth grade—went viral after netizens pointed out a grammatical error.
Pacquiao's announcement came days after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) recalled all frequencies and channels assigned to ABS-CBN Corp.
To recall, the NTC on May 5 issued an order for the company to cease and desist from operating its radio and television stations and explain in writing why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled for lack of franchise.
This action was a turnaround from NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba’s statement before the House of Representatives in March that they will issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN given that the House and the Senate made communications stating they are in favor of such issuance.
In June, the regulator ordered ABS-CBN to cease and desist from operating digital television transmission in Metro Manila using Channel 43, which it uses to broadcast ABS-CBN TV Plus programs.
Then on July 10, House committee on legislative franchise voted to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application, adopting a committee resolution recommending the denial of the network's franchise application through 70 yes votes, 11 no votes, and three who did not participate.
The bills seeking franchise renewal for ABS-CBN have been pending since 2014 but the House only decided to start its deliberations on these proposals on March 10 this year.
The Supreme Court also dismissed ABS-CBN's petition challenging the NTC's cease and desist order that forced it to shut down broadcast operations last May.—AOL, GMA News