Palace backs using ABS-CBN frequencies for distance learning program
A guard passes logo of ABS-CBN at the network’s compound, a day it was ordered shut by National Telecommunications Commission, May 6, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varca
Palace backs using ABS-CBN frequencies for distance learning program
(Philstar.com) - July 16, 2020 - 7:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday said it would be in favor of a possible reallocation of ABS-CBN Corp.'s former radio and television frequencies to be used for the education department's distance learning program, should the department decide on it.

This comes after Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte (Camarines Sur) filed a House Resolution on Wednesday calling on the government to use television and radio frequencies previously used by ABS-CBN Corp. for the education department's alternative learning scheme. 

“It’s a good idea but the decision must be made by the [Education] Secretary [Leonor] Briones and [Commission on Higher Education] Chairman Popoy [De Vera],” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.

But Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the department is firm that classes will still open on August 24 regardless of form, suggesting that local governments could shoulder the weight of distributing learning resources to students' homes. 

The country's frequency spectrum is owned and maintained by the government, which it parcels off to broadcasters and to telecommunications service providers. But it is still unclear whether the government even has the infrastructure and equipment to properly make use of the frequencies, nor does it have the budget nor the time to build such capacity.

The education department's blended learning proposal has drawn criticism for being "anti-poor" with many groups pointing out the burden that the additional costs of buying radios, television sets and other gadgets would place on poor families.

At the same press briefing on Thursday, Roque added that the labor department would be putting up a "one-stop shop center for Metro Manila where retrenched employees of ABS-CBN can apply."

Over 11,000 employees are set to lose their jobs as a result of Congress' denial of the broadcast giant's franchise application, with a bulk of the layoffs slated to take place by end-August. — Franco Luna

ABS-CBN FRANCHISE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PALACE PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON HARRY ROQUE
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