MANILA — A senator on Friday expressed hope that the resignation of Rodolfo Salalima as Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) would not lead to any “service interruption” within the agency.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto made this statement urging President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately appoint a replacement for Salalima noting that improving internet access in the Philippines was one of his campaign promises.
“I hope that the Department of Information and Communications Technology, despite being the youngest department, has a deep talent pool from where Secretary Salalima’s replacement will be picked so there will be no — to use a telco term — service interruption,” Recto said in a press statement.
“After power and water, broadband is the third utility, and that importance is reflected in the national budget, which authorizes billions of pesos in making internet ‘fast, free and fair,” he added.
Recto, who authored and sponsored the law creating the DICT and the Free Public WiFi Act, said the latter requires more than merely installing public WiFi access points to mandating reform in the telecom sector.
He said the free WiFi law has provisions that improve internet speed, better broadband services, and cut red tape. Moreover, it also promotes fair competition and bars unfair business practices.
According to Recto, the newly-signed Free Internet Access in Public Places Act has a proposed budget of PHP1.74 billion next year, for the rollout of 5,308 new WiFi hotspots.
On top of that amount is a proposed PHP1.2 billion to lay the groundwork for a national broadband system.
Both allocations are in the proposed 2018 budget of the DICT of PHP6.9 billion, almost double from this year’s PHP3.6 billion.
A PHP422-million fund is also included for the development of a centralized portal allowing individuals to make online transactions.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in an earlier statement, said that Salalima’s resignation was due to “personal and work-related reasons.”
President Duterte, in a press conference, said that he is already looking for Salalima’s replacement. (PNA)