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Successive government administrations—including that of President Benigno Aquino—have modified the structure of official ICT bodies.
His Executive Order 47 of 2011 established an Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) tasked with conducting research, development, and capacity-building in the ICT industry.
Access was undermined when authorities restricted network coverage during the papal visit in 2015.
The cost and slow speed of internet service was a prominent issue in the past year, with a couple of lawmakers initiating inquiries into steep charges and poor performance; telcos being summoned by the government to discuss minimum broadband speed – a move firmly rejected by telcos in a position paper; and the PLDT publicly blaming “abusive” internet users for the slow speeds. Akamai reported the average connection speed in the country at 2.5 Mbps in the third quarter of 2014, no change from the previous year. Not only does the Philippines have the slowest internet speed in the region, it also has the most expensive subscriptions. In early 2015, PLDT was charging a minimum monthly subscription fee for fixed broadband at US for up to 2Mbps, a significant increase from last year’s ; while Globe’s charges remained at . In a departure from previous years, the government ordered a sporadic regional suspension of cellular services during the visit of Pope Francis from January 15 to 19, 2015. Telcos sent text messages to mobile phone subscribers announcing service interruption, citing a directive from the National Telecommunications Commission to block network coverage in areas visited by the Pope for security reasons. The government stated concerns over the potential for remote detonation of explosives via mobile phone, a justification criticized by at least one lawmaker. According to latest government data from 2012, the Philippines has 360 operating ISPs. Many of these connect to PLDT, which owns the majority of fixed-line connections as well as the 10,000 kilometer domestic fiber-optic network that connects to several international networks.
However, the division of labor between this office and the Department of Transportation and Communications, which also deals with ICT-related communications, as well as the National Computer Center and the Telecommunications Office, is hard to perceive.
If an ICT department is approved, all other ICT-related agencies will be abolished and their powers and personnel transferred to its jurisdiction.
Internet users freely access social networks and communication apps including You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, and international blog-hosting services.
Although rare, blocking and filtering of content is allowed under a law that requires ISPs to prevent access to pornographic sites. The Department of Justice briefly sought to block Canada-based online dating site Ashley Madison after it launched in the country in November 2014. According to Department Secretary Leila De Lima, “The website is a platform that allows illegal acts to be eventually committed.A ban may be enforced,” referring to the website’s promotion of extramarital affairs, which are illegal. The justice department backtracked a month later, stating that it could only request that telcos and ISPs block the website, rather than mandate it.