Press Release
July 26, 2015

Recto: Prioritize free WiFi in public hospitals, airports, MRT

Following the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) launching of six pilot free WiFi hotspots in Metro Manila, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto said "public hospitals, airports and mass transit system must be prioritized next."

Recto, who sponsored the program's funding in the 2015 national budget, praised the DOST for its on-time roll-out of the WiFi service, "thereby giving us hope that it will soon be installed in other key areas."

Under the original plan, no-charge WiFi access will be set up in selected airports, hospitals, public schools, plazas, seaports, government offices and other public places.

The idea, Recto explained, is to choose installation areas which will yield the greatest public benefit.

"And this what Secretary Montejo and his team are doing: making sure the government gets more bytes and benefits out of the buck," Recto said.

Officially called the Free Internet Connectivity in Public Places, the project has a budget of P1.4 billion this year.

Recto said free Wi-Fi access in major government hospitals is important so that the sick and those take care or treat them "can have a lifeline they can use to call a friend."

Communication is important for families whose loved ones are admitted in hospitals, he stressed.

"If you're a son of an OFW and you would like to get in touch with your father because your mom has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises," he said.

According to Recto, the installation of a WiFi service in an LTO station in Quezon City is a good start.

"Ang concept kasi na ipinaliwanag sa akin is to install it in frontline government offices which draw the longest queues and the largest crowds," he said.

"If you're at the NSO at may problema ka sa birth certificate mo, kung may access doon, pwede mong i-Viber ang kailangan pang dokumento," Recto said.

Recto welcomed DOST's plan to set up free Wi-Fi in airports and seaports "as these would be a big help to tourists and travelers."

"2015 is Visit Philippines Year. It is also the year we'll be hosting 15,000 delegates to the APEC Leaders' Summit and run-up activities. As part of our preparations, we're sprucing up NAIA, building flyovers, and repairing our roads. Wi-Fi in gateways should be a parcel of this," Recto said.

Under the project's long-term targets are the establishment of free Internet access points in 967 3rd to 6th class towns and Metro Manila and "points of presence" in 6 Luzon, 4 Visayas, and 4 Mindanao cities.

In all, there will be 9,706 rural links in unserved and underserved areas.

The six initial sites chosen by the DOST in Metro Manila are Quezon City Memorial Circle, Quezon City Hall, PHILCOA, Social Security System, LTO in Quezon City, and Rizal Park in Manila.

The first pilot site in Quezon City Circle was activated last week.

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