MANILA - Two senators on Thursday ribbed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for its failure to connect to a teleconference hearing that seeks to discuss the Philippines' shift to online learning as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak persists.
The NTC - which governs telcos and broadcasting systems in the country - was unable to log into the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture's videoconference hearing due to technical problems.
"Mukhang mayroong technical problems ang NTC," Committee chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said during the hearing.
(I think the NTC is encountering technical problems.)
"'Pag may technical problems ang NTC parang nawawalan ako ng pag-asa sa online learning na mangyayari sa bansa natin dahil ang NTC ang regulator ng mga telcos," he said.
(If NTC has technical problems, I think I'm losing hope in our shift to online learning because NTC is the regulator of telcos.)
Sen. Francis Tolentino noted that the NTC's office was situated in Quezon City, one of the high-earning cities in Metro Manila, which is expected to have good internet connectivity compared to other regional areas.
"Walang signal ang NTC (The NTC has no signal). It's a very good omen," Tolentino said, chuckling.
"Dapat pinakamalakas na signal NTC (The NTC should have the strongest signal). I think you're just here in Metro Manila," Tolentino said.
"NTC are you still practicing state of the art technology? We can't hear you," he said.
Gatchalian ended the banter by asking NTC to fix its internet connection.
"Continue to fix it para may pag-asa pa kami sa Pilipinas sa online learning," he said.
(Continue to fix it so we'd have faith in the Philippines' shift to online learning.)
Schools in the Philippines have been preparing to hold online, TV and radio-based learning after President Rodrigo Duterte banned face-to-face classes while a COVID-19 vaccine has yet to be developed.
Gatchalian earlier said that several schools, especially in the public sector, are "not yet ready" to shift to the Department of Education's proposed distance-learning module as the Philippines continued to have one of the slowest and most expensive internet connectivity in the world.
A 2019 study showed that the Philippines' mobile internet speeds ranked 103rd among 139 surveyed countries as its average mobile internet download speed of 15.06 Megabits per second was far below the global average of 26.12 Mbps.