Philippines seeks $21-million refund from public WiFi contractor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2021 05:47 PM | Updated as of May 10 2021 07:02 PM

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The Philippines is seeking a refund of $21 million or about P1 billion from the foreign contractor of government's free WiFi project over its slow pace, Malacañang said on Monday. 
 
The Department of Information and Communications Technology demanded that contractor Speedcast "turn over both the project and the funds" to the government after it installed free WiFi at only about 10,000 out of 120,000 target sites, Palace spokesman Harry Roque has said. 
 
"Napakalaki po ng ating hinihingi... Ang hinihingi po nating pagbabalik ay ang halagang US$21,855,481.63," he said in a press briefing. 

"At kaya po natin hinihingi iyong refund na iyan dahil hindi naman nila nakabit iyong mga WiFi spots na iyan ano. Samantalang napatunayan na natin ngayon na kayang-kaya na po iyan ng DICT." 

(We are asking for a lot. We are asking for the return of $21,855,481.63. And we are seeking that refund because they did not set up those WiFi spots we have proven that the DICT can do it.)
 
Last year alone, the Department of Information and Communications Technology installed WiFi in five times more sites than the contractor did up until 2019, Roque said. 

He did not say how Speedcast reacted to Manila's demand. 
 
Duterte in 2017 approved the law that would provide free internet access in public places.