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Aug 4, 2017
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President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law three measures this week that all aim to improve the quality of life of Filipinos.

These include Republic Acts that provide free internet in public places, and the extension of the validities of drivers’ licenses and Philippine passports. Let’s take a closer look at these new laws and get to know how this will benefit us.


Free internet

Republic Act No. 10929, also known as the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, basically gives the nation free access to internet in public places such as government offices, public academic institutions and state universities, hospitals, parks and the like.

The law clearly states that “No fees shall be collected from users to connect to the public internet access points.”

But this is probably the only good thing about this project right now so don’t get your hopes up too high just yet.

Remember the free Wi-Fi project last June? Yes, you could actually get free access to the internet for the first 30 minutes along EDSA and MRT stations but there were pretty much tons of technical issues. Some people were even unable to connect. What more if this is applied nationwide?

And with the number of users who will actually connect to it at the same time, will there actually be enough bandwidth to satisfy everyone’s browsing needs? We also can’t disregard the possibility of these public networks being a prime target for hackers.

Aside from these issues, it would also take some time to establish the free internet program. Section 5a of the Act states that the government will “Within 1 year from the effectivity of this Act, develop a comprehensive plan for the timely and effective implementation and propagation of the Program.”

This means the planning stage alone will take up to a year before the actual implementation takes place. You’ll also have to consider that setting up internet infrastructure on a nationwide scale won’t be an easy task.

In terms of speed, users will be provided with a minimum of 2 megabits per second (Mbps). We’re not really sure how fast it will actually turn out, but in comparison, Globe’s broadband plans offer speeds from 5 to 50 mbps. A report from Yugatech also states that average speeds for the country during the third quarter of 2016 was pegged at 7.27 Mbps.

5-year driver’s license

Republic Act No. 10930 finally extended the validity of drivers’ licenses from the previous 3 years to 5 years. This will apply to all new applications except for student permits.

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Motorists might also want to take note that keeping a good record (no violations) for the 5-year period will entitle you to renew your license for double the current validity. Of course, this is still subject to Land Transportation Office (LTO) standards.

We just hope that the LTO will figure out a system to issue these licenses without having another backlog nightmare.

10-year passports

Republic Act No. 10928 doubles the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years. However, individuals who are under 18 years of age during the time of application will still be issued with passports having the old validity of 5 years.

Needless to say, adding more years to a passport’s validity means a higher processing fee. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Consular Affairs Passport Director Ricarte Abejuela previously told GMA News that the new passport can cost somewhere around P2,000. The DFA currently charges P950 for standard 5-year passports and P1,200 for passports released under express processing. 

The added fee will also include additional passport pages so it’s going to be worth it with less trips to the DFA and more time to enjoy your travels.

 

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