MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that TV frequencies returned to the government would be used to deliver "uninterrupted, quality education" to students as the country's education system shifts to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"TV frequencies reverted back to government for whatever cause or reason shall not be used exclusively to the exclusion of other persons or dummies to cope up with the demand of the next normal," Duterte said in his 5th State of the Nation Address.
"These will be used to provide uninterrupted quality education to our children and our shift to e-learning," he added.
Duterte made the remark after his allies in the House of Representatives earlier this month denied ABS-CBN Corp a new 25-year franchise, fulfilling his promise to take the network off the air.
The chief executive ordered Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to come up with an "integrated program and implementation, making sure that these TV frequencies are fully utilized by government."
Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte earlier proposed that government use ABS-CBN's former television and radio frequencies in the shift to distance learning.
In a statement, ABS-CBN said it was offering the use of its transmission network to broadcast educational programs all over the country.
The company also offered the use of all the education programs it has produced in the past 20 years.
"We hope to help the government continuously educate students nationwide despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic," ABS-CBN said.
Under the distance learning plan, the Department of Education aims to deliver lessons to students at home through TV, radio, print and digital modules, and online platforms.
Last July 10, the House committee on legislative franchises denied ABS-CBN's license bid after its franchise lapsed on May 4, forcing it off the air during the COVID-19 pandemic as millions became jobless and those in far-flung areas lost access to information.