A Senate hearing on Wednesday on internet service in the country had to be cut because of poor internet connection, marred by multiple glitches, which was the very problem it sought to address.
Senate Public Services committee chair Grace Poe suspended a videoconference hearing on the status of internet service in the Philippines as it was “ironically” interrupted several times due to the technical problems.
The internet service providers present in the faulty hearing were PLDT, Globe Telecom, Converge and Dito.
“I don’t want to prolong our suffering anymore straining ourselves trying to understand each other with this horrible connection that we have,” Poe told the panel before suspending the hearing.
“It is safe to say the connection today is awful to say the least,” she said.
Poe, in less than an hour, had to repeat several questions and clarify answers as resource persons attending virtually were either disconnected or suffered from audio-visual buffering during the discussions.
Poe, who was in the Senate, also had to use her personal iPad to join the virtual hearing as the chamber’s contraptions could not connect successfully to the videoconferencing app.
“It is quite ironic that we are having connectivity issues during a hearing on connectivity. It is just telling of the situation in our country today and how we are trying to cope with this new requirement that we all need to have fulfilled,” Poe also said.
Sen. Nancy Binay jokingly asked if the Senate was subscribed to sufficient mega bits per second (MBPS), noting that this was not the first Senate hearing that was spoiled by poor internet connection.
“Kung ano man ang MBPS natin (whatever MBPS subscription we have), apparently it is not even good enough because we are having problems with our connection,” Binay said.
“I think ‘yung committee hearing mo today ‘yung pinakamasama yung signal (I think your committee hearing today had the worst signal.),” Binay told Poe.
Poe warned telco representatives who were present in the hearing that they could not skirt the committee’s scrutiny despite the Senate’s poor internet connection.
“I think sinasabotahe ito (I think this is being sabotaged.),” Poe said in jest.
“Kala niyo titigilan ko kayo (You think I will stop)? I will require your physical presence if i have to,” she said, referring to internet service providers.
“Comedy of errors na lahat na ito eh. Lumalabas ‘yung sintomas ng sakit na dapat natin gamutin
(This is all a comedy of errors. All the symptoms of a disease that we need to cure is coming out.),” Poe said.
Poe suspended the hearing around 3:15 p.m.
She said that another session would be called after the chamber settles the technical issues.
Last week, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Francis Tolentino criticized the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for having poor internet connection despite being the regulator of internet service providers.
Senators have been studying the Philippines’ internet issues as the country shifts to online classes and work-from-home schemes to limit the exposure of the public to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Last week, the NTC also failed to participate in a Senate hearing of the committee on basic education. It struck as an irony and disheartened senators on the possibility of online learning in the Philippines amid a global pandemic./Stacy Ang