By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The National Telecommunication Commission’s (NTC) failure to participate in a virtual Senate hearing raised serious doubts on its capability to play its role in the implementation of online learning for the coming school year, which opens in August.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios was unable to connect to the Senate basic education committee’s hybrid hearing on Thursday when senators were discussing the shift to online and distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Walang signal ang NTC (The NTC lost its signal). It’s a very good omen. NTC, naririnig nyo kami (can you hear us)?” asked Senator Francis Tolentino, clearly teasing the NTC.
“Dapat pinakamalakas na signal ang NTC (The NTC should have the strongest signal). I think you’re just here in Metro Manila. NTC you don’t have any signal. Are you still practicing state of the art technology? he continued.
Tolentino called Cabarios to ask him about the plan to tap state-owned broadcast companies to help in the government’s alternative learning delivery programs, but the latter did not respond.
Committee chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the NTC official was experiencing “technical problems” connecting to the hybrid hearing.
“‘Pag may technical problems ang NTC, parang nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa sa online learning na mangyayari sa bansa natin, dahil ang NTC ang regulator ng telcos (If the NTC is facing technical problems, I think I’m losing hope on the online learning to be implemented in the country, because NTC itself is the regulator of telecommunication companies),” Gatchalian commented.
“Unfortunate po na ‘di gumagana ang inyong ano dahil maganda ang queries ni Sen. Tolentino (It’s unfortunate that your connection is failing because Sen. Tolentino’s queries are good). Continue to fix it para may pag-asa pa kami sa Pilipinas sa online learning (so we’ll be confident with the online learning in the Philippines),” he added.
The Senate committee proceeded to ask other resource persons until Gatchalian terminated the hearing past 1 p.m.
During the hearing, senators expressed concern over the Department of Education’s (DepEd) preparedness to implement blended and distance learning programs for the August 24 school opening.
Two months before opening of classes, the DepEd has yet to come up with data determining alternative learning modes that would be appropriate for learners in various areas of the country.