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ARMM to introduce free internet in public places

Cotabato City (March 8, 2016) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will provide free internet connection to public places in the coming months to improve residents’ access to opportunities.

The free internet access will be funded by the ARMM’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-ARMM.

Abdenul Campong, chief of information and communications technology of the ARMM governor's office, said PAMANA will initially provide internet connection to public places in five identified local government units – one site in each province under the ARMM.

The project aims at providing connectivity and free internet access and an avenue for service delivery mechanism enhancement in the areas of education, health, and disaster preparedness.

“The focus is to establish connectivity in government service agencies or offices to improve government services,” Campong said. He added that the connectivity is for use of the PAMANA communities availing government services such as online registration for birth certificate, marriage certificate, and National Bureau of Investigation clearance, among others.

In January and February, the project’s Technical Working Group conducted a series of site validation to find strategic places for the connections and the presence of internet service providers in the areas.

The target local government units are Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, Bongao in Tawi-Tawi, Jolo in Sulu, and Lamitan City in Basilan. A total of P50 million was allocated for the entire year under the 2016 PAMANA ARMM Fund.

PAMANA is the national government’s peace and development framework that caters specifically to peace and development issues of conflict-affected communities.

Meanwhile, the DOST-ARMM will also embark on internet connection to more than 80 identified sites across the region. The project, dubbed ‘Juan Konek’, will install free internet connectivity to public places such as plazas, parks, schools and health facilities.

“This project aims at accelerating the government’s efforts in enhancing internet accessibility for Filipinos to accelerate economic, social and educational opportunities,” DOST-ARMM Secretary Myrah Mangcabung said.

The project is the national government’s initiative directly in line with the “Internet For All” thrust identified in the Philippine Digital Strategy 2011-2016.

The project, launched in July 2015, received P3 billion in total funding. The free internet can be accessed through 7,118 sites nationwide across 967 towns.(Bureau of Public Information)
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