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DICT’s 2020 budget suffers delay due to issues on free Wi-Fi project – source

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Top officials of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) led by Sec. Gringo Honasan were flabbergasted after the House leadership decided to suspend budget deliberations on Tuesday evening without even tackling the agency’s annual allocation.

Appropriations Committee vice chairs Rep. Luis Campos (Makati) and Jonathan Sy-Alvarado (Bulacan) who were tasked to defend DICT’s P5.1-billion budget for 2020 were both clueless why the House plenary failed to tackle the agency’s annual allocation after Deput Majority Floor Leader David Suarez (Quezon) moved to suspend the budget deliberations until 1 p.m. Wednesday, September 17.

Politiko learned that as the members of the DICT family left the floor, Honasan reportedly went to see key officials of the House leadership upstairs to seek clarification over the action not to tackle his agency’s budget.

A congressional insider confessed that there is an important matter Honasan and the DICT failed to resolve with the House leadership—most probably the P1.1-billion Free Internet Wi-Fi Connectivity in Public Places Project.

The said project aims to put up new Wi-Fi hotspots that would provide the public free internet connectivity in 2020.

The same source disclosed that some influential congressmen aired opposition to the proposal since it will be carried by the two biggest telco firms in the country—Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecoms.

“This is worse than being deferred. At least you know what’s wrong if your budget deliberation is deferred,” the Central Luzon solon who requested anonymity said.

DICT has so far completed the installation of password-free Wi-Fi hotspots “in 2,330 sites covering all 17 regions across 73 provinces in over 640 municipalities and cities” as of April 1, 2019, based on its submitted report to Congress.

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