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Duterte urged to sign EOs for faster internet, online gov’t portal

INTERNET SPEED.

DICT drafts an executive order meant to increase the number of cell sites in the country

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is counting on President Rodrigo Duterte to sign two proposed executive orders for faster internet and improved online government services.

DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima explained the two EOs to Palace media during a press conference on Tuesday, June 13.

The draft EO to improve online government services was already submitted to the Office of the President.

“We have now asked the President to issue an EO urging all departments of government to transfer, to migrate all of their data, systems and processing to DICT,” said Salalima.

The transfer of all this data from various government offices will enable DICT to operate a government portal which citizens can use for all their transactions with government.

This means requests for government documents from agencies like the National Statistics Office or National Bureau of Investigation can be done in a “one-stop shop” website rather than through different websites.

Some 125 government agencies, including the Commission on Elections, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Department of Finance have already transferred their data to the DICT.

Salalima said Comelec made the transfer after the 2015 data leaks where hackers were able to access sensitive personal information of thousands of voters.

He said centralizing all government data into one portal managed by DICT is one way to ensure the data is better protected.

“I assure you that the DICT will take care of all your data encoded in the databases of all government,” said Salalima.

He is hopeful that all government agencies will be able to transfer their data to DICT “in 6 months.”

Speed up process

The second EO the DICT wants Duterte to sign has been drafted but not yet submitted to his office. This EO pushes for local government units to speed up the processing of permits for the construction and operation of cell sites.

If this is implemented, telecommunication companies will be able to put up more cell sites all over the country and allow more people to access the internet.

Salalima pointed out sobering figures about the state of Philippine internet connectivity.

He said Southeast Asian neighbor Vietnam has 70,000 cell sites, while the Philippines has only 16,000. This, he said, is due to the arduous process of getting permits for the construction of cell sites.

Salalima specifically accused Metro Manila’s private subdivisions of opposing the construction of cell sites in their areas. 

“Because our subdivisiosn in Metro Manila, which are so large, don't want the telcos to come in. And yet they are the ones complaining that their internet is not fast; they experience dropped calls,” said Salalima. 

As for LGUs, Salalima frowned upon the slow processing of permits and the convoluted system it involves. 

Some provincial LGUs, he said, require up to 25 permits to put up one cell site. Through the EO, Salalima wants LGUs ordered to issue permits in 9 days.

“Public service cannot wait. You have to issue your permit in 9 days time, beyond which you will suffer the wrath of government. They are moving. But I feel that with the executive order, they will move faster than what I ordered them,” said Salalima.

The Philippines has among the slowest internet speeds in the world. The DICT’s National Broadband Plan, approved by Duterte, seeks to remedy this.

Part of the plan, to be implemented from 2017 to 2027, is to provide internet access points to remote rural areas. The goal is to provide connections of at least 10 Mbps to subscribers by 2020. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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