GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 Oct) – A total of 83 sites in South Cotabato province have been identified by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as priority areas of the “Free Wi-Fi for All” program.
Pam Galenzoga, UNDP institutional development officer, said the province is included in the second phase of deployment of the initiative, which is aimed to provide wider Wi-Fi or wireless networking access in the country.
She said the 83 priority areas are among the 344 sites in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) identified by the DICT and UNDP for the program’s rollout, which is now in the preparatory stage in the province.
The program has also identified 116 sites in North Cotabato, 70 in Sarangani, 65 in Sultan Kudarat and 10 in this city.
Galenzoga said 17 sites were identified in Banga town, 14 in Tampakan, 12 in Tboli, 10 in Norala, 8 in Lake Sebu, 7 in Koronadal City, 6 in Tantangan, 4 in Surallah, 3 in Sto. Niño and 2 in Tupi.
She said 60 of these are situated in the offices and facilities of the 10 host local government units (LGUs), like municipal and barangay halls.
The target sites, based on the program’s guidelines, include schools, plazas and other public places, Galenzoga said.
“The 10 LGUs were chosen since they have high poverty incidence, estimated between 22.41 to 64 percent and considered higher than the national average of 21.6 percent,” she said in a statement.
Galenzoga said the priority sites are considered as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas or GIDA, which is one of the program’s criteria in terms of helping the disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
To fast-track the program’s implementation, South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. has created a project coordinating team composed of officials and representatives from various offices and agencies.
The team is headed by the government and with the provincial administrator, lawyer Renette Bergado, as vice chairperson.
The members are representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, UNDP, DICT, Provincial Budget Office, Provincial Engineering Office, Provincial Accounting Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Provincial Information Office, Barangay Affairs Unit, civil society/non-government organizations, and the 10 host LGUs.
A project briefer said the “Free Wi-Fi for All” program was provided for in Republic Act 10929 or an Act Establishing the Free Internet Access Program in Public Places in the Country.
It aims to provide free broadband internet access across the country to accelerate economic, social, and educational opportunities as well as reduce the digital divide. (MindaNews)