Foreign chambers back urgent certification for Open Access bill

FOREIGN BUSINESS groups are recommending that the Open Access bill be certified as urgent when Congress reconvenes for its third and final regular session next week.

The seven members of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) said the bill that would ease the entry of internet service providers into the market will “bridge critical gaps in broadband infrastructure by attracting more firms to invest in the data transmission and broadband sector.”

The chambers expect the House to approve House Bill No. 8910 on third reading, while a counterpart bill is pending at the Senate Science and Technology Committee.

“The JFC looks forward to any mention of the Open Access bill in the (State of the Nation Address) and recommends that the measure be certified as urgent by the President to emphasize its importance to economic recovery and more competition and investment in broadband, especially in underserved areas throughout the Philippines,” the groups said in a statement Tuesday.

They said digital infrastructure in the Philippines lags the rest of Southeast Asia.

“One major lesson of the ongoing pandemic is that developing competitive digital infrastructure is essential for better lives for everyone in the Philippines and certainly critical for investment, particularly foreign investment,” the chambers said.

The Open Access bill is included in the list of 17 priority reform bills sent to Congress by 15 business groups. The foreign chambers said that the lower barriers to enter the data transmission market will significantly improve data transmission services.

“Without substantial new investment and competition in each of the four ‘miles’ of the broadband sector, recovery from the pandemic will be slower and Filipinos will be less well served than their counterparts in ASEAN.”

The statement was signed by the American, Australia-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers, along with the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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