Still no free public WiFi: Palace says gov't unhappy with project contractor

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2021 02:39 PM | Updated as of May 03 2021 02:55 PM

Still no free public WiFi: Palace says gov't unhappy with project contractor 1
A child uses a mobile gadget and shares WiFi signal with five other family members in their home in Antipolo City on July 1, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The government is unhappy with a foreign contractor over the slow rollout of free WiFi in select public areas, nearly four years after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the project, Malacañang said on Monday. 

Duterte in 2017 approved the law that would provide free internet access in public places. However, the free WiFi is running at only about 10,000 of some 120,000 target sites, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

"Siyempre po, hindi tayo happy," he said in a press briefing. "Ang pangako natin, libreng WiFi sa lahat. Dapat magkaroon pa rin ‘yan ng katuparan sa administrasyon ni President Duterte, and we have one year to go." 

(Of course, we are not happy. Our promise was free WiFi for all. That should be fulfilled during the administration of President Duterte, and we have one year to go.) 

Last year alone, the Department of Information and Communications Technology installed WiFi in five times more sites than the contractor did up until 2019, said Roque. 

"Ang posisyon po talaga ng Presidente at DICT ay itigil na ang involvement nitong current contractor na foreign... at ibalik na ang pera na naibayad na sa kanila dahil pupuwede na pong ipagpatuloy 'yan ng DICT," he said. 

(The position of the President and DiCT is that the involvement of the current foreign contractor should stop and the money given to them should be returned because the DICT can take over the project.)

"Kailangan double time talaga... Pero sa bilis naman po ng galaw ng DICT ngayon, we have confidence that we can meet at least close to the target if not 110,000 sites," he added. 

(It should be double time. But with the speed of DICT's action, we have confidence that we can meet at least close to the target if not 110,000 sites.)

The DICT is also looking into allegations of smuggling and bribing against contractor Speedcast Customs, Roque said. 

Video courtesy of PTV