It has been more than a century since President Aguinaldo’s momentous climb up his mansion in Cavite. It was there where he delivered what was to be the official proclamation of Philippine independence. Back then, being liberated from the Spanish rule was the masses’ main definition of the word freedom. But throughout those hundred years, continuous debate on the general definition of the word developed its meaning. Now a nation’s freedom is not just measured by an obvious absence of an oppressor but also in the ability of its people to improve their quality of life in a secured and supportive environment.
Debates on making internet access into a basic human right have recently been raised and tackled in several councils, including the United Nations. The indisputable benefits of being connected and the opportunities that come with it have been the main reasons that policy makers and modern philosophers consider this so.
In this age, no tool is a greater enabler of freedom than the Internet. Because of it, information used to be cloaked by either circumstance or obvious efforts to deny transparency are made available for every critical eye. Now, people no longer need to go through difficult lengths to be heard by their representatives. A search, an instant message or even a click are the only things that lie between them and the matters that affect their nation.
Indeed, the exercises of free speech and idea sharing have reached phenomenal heights with the aid of this wondrous tool of technology. However, the country’s current state of connectivity only allows access to those viewed by commercial providers as possible monetary customers.
Not much has been done to address the issue until now. The ICT Office of the DOST has been working on laying down the structure and system of the Free Wi-Fi Internet in Public Places that aims to deliver the liberty brought upon by the World Wide Web to almost all the people in the country. This is one of the biggest steps in fulfilling the responsibility of the government to provide enablers of absolute freedom to its people, especially to those who need it the most.
It is high time to address this denial of connection to those who are deemed by the private providers as financial investments risks. Just as our forefathers have fought to grant us independence against the abusive Spaniards of colonial times, the government will do the same by battling the challenge set by the archipelagic make up of the country to provide freedom from even worse oppressors: ignorance, poverty and the lack of opinion in deciding issues that affect their lives.
With this, no one will have a voice too little, or a mind too feeble to comprehend. By becoming involved we learn, we understand and we contribute; and we fight oppression we never before realized. A nation that is free is a nation where no one is left behind.