DICT investigating alleged customs violations of contractor in gov't free wi-fi project
Malacanang on Monday said the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is investigating alleged customs violations of the foreign contractor in the government's "free public wi-fi" project.
In a press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that the national government is disappointed with the slow pace of the installation of free wi-fis five years after it was passed into law.
"The government is not happy with the performance of the contractor... It is unacceptable that many years after passing the law, there are only 10,000 (public wifis) installed," Roque said.
"Allegedly the foreign contractor imported undervalued components and tried to bribe (Customs officials)... The DICT is already investigating," he said.
He added undervalued items are considered as smuggling.
Roque said the foreign contractor, Speedcast Ltd., must return the money paid by the government for the project and the DICT will just pay for the wi-fi they've installed.
"The position of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) and the DICT is to stop the involvement with the current foreign contractor and (they) must return the money since the DICT can now continue the project," he said.
Roque did not mention how many wi-fis were installed by Speedcast but he said the DICT managed to put up five hundred percent more wi-fis in 2020 compared to the ones installed by the foreign contractor from 2015 to 2019.
Roque said they are confident that the DICT can meet close to the target of 120,000 free public wi-fis before the end of Duterte's term next year.
"The free wi-fi for all must be fulfilled under the Duterte administration... We have one year to go... (DICT) should double time... Right to connectivity is already a human right... On the performance of DICT, we are confident that we can meet close to the target," he said.
Roque said they support any investigation that will be conducted by the Congress. Ella Dionisio/DMS