ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Information and Communications Technology – IX launched new sites connected to the government’s free internet program through the expanded Zamboanga-Basilan Broadband Project and Government Network projects, Saturday, August 20, 2022.

DICT IX+ BASULTA established the Zamboanga-Basilan Broadband Network where a fiber optic cable link was established at the Philippine Ports Authority tower to transmit bandwidth to Basilan via IP radio in 2020.

Providing connectivity to all public places, most especially the hard-to-reach areas, has always been one of the DICT’s marching order. Numerous agencies have been requesting to be part of the network. To accommodate them, we strengthened our infrastructure by establishing a fiber optic cable connection in our DICT Zamboanga City office and procured additional bandwidth,” shared Asec. Maria Teresa Camba, who also currently serves as the Regional Director for DICT IX+BASULTA. 20 new sites have been launched in today’s event. To date, the broadband network now connects a total of 51 government offices in Isabela and Lamitan, Basilan.

Meanwhile, 127 government agencies are now provided with free internet connectivity in Zamboanga City through DICT’s Government Network [GovNet] project. GovNet is a network of interconnected government offices for coordinated and simplified public service with fast, reliable, and more secure connection at a lower cost through the aggregation of common government ICT resources and sharing of common services as envisioned in E-Government Masterplan (EGMP) 2022.

Hon. Peter V. Eisma, Executive Judge, of the Hall of Justice Branch 15 in Zamboanga City, shared how the free internet has helped the office in this time of the pandemic when public trials and meetings are conducted online. “During the COVID-19 crisis, the courts have been conducting videoconferencing and only a few persons are allowed in the office. All the others, the lawyers, the prisoners are in their respective offices or houses, so this is a great help. We wish to thank the DICT for setting this up and making our jobs easier,” he stated.

DICT Secretary Ivan John E. Uy, who was present to personally launch various projects in Zamboanga City, mentioned DICT’s support to grow the country’s digital economy: “It is this administration’s utmost priority to provide conduits of ICT-enabled services that will channel digital transformation to every Filipino, as we lead the way towards a Digital Philippines. As emphasized by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr during his first SONA, your DICT will give prime importance to making government transactions more efficient and convenient through digitalization and in improving Filipinos’ lives through ICT.”

During the activity, the DICT also turned over ICT packages to Basilan schools under BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education including ALS Akbar, ALS Unkaya Pukan, ALS Hji Muhtamad, ALS Al-barka, and ALS Tabuanlasah. These packages will be used for the schools’ Tech4ED Centers, a one-stop ICT facility offering ICT-enabled content and services to the public.

Huawei and PLDT Smart Foundation also joined the event to launch the School in a Bag program, a portable digital classroom designed to facilitate learning in remote areas. Each School in a Bag contains one Huawei laptop for the teacher, 10 Huawei tablets to be shared by the students, and a pocket Wi-Fi for the teacher to connect to the internet. Learning materials and videos are preloaded on the devices. Huawei partnered with DICT IX+BASULTA to further enhance the coverage of the program, where DICT has identified Landang Gua Elementary School, Sacol Island, Zamboanga City and Lampinigan National Highschool, Basilan as the first 2 beneficiary schools in Mindanao that received the digital education package.