DICT’s KonekTawag Centers provided Typhoon Odette-hit residents with free emergency communications to be utilized until the restoration of commercial telecommunication services in the affected areas.
“We are aware of the urgent need to restore communications and connectivity to these Odette-hit towns and localities to ensure the continued access of our kababayans to their basic needs—including education, livelihood, and access to information,” DICT Secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic said.
As a nationwide response, the DICT deployed KonekTawag Centers in its various regional offices to provide affected Filipinos with immediate access to telecommunication services. These centers provided free charging of devices and Wi-Fi hotspot for the residents, allowing them to communicate with loved ones and access critical information.
“Ako mismo mapasalamaton sa serbisyo gikan sa DICT because nag offer sila ug service free charging and free wifi para makonekta namo among mga loved ones sa nagka lain lain na lugar. Ang tanan nga trabahante sa DICT grabe ka supportive, grabe ka hospitable, dako karajaw sila ug natabang sa mga Surigaonon,” a KonekTawag user named Ms. Cherry Mae Obero asserted.
[“I am truly grateful for the service from DICT because they offer free charging service and free Wi-Fi so that we can connect to our loved ones from different places. All the DICT staff are likewise very supportive, very hospitable, very caring and helpful to us Surigaonons.”]
Department personnel manned the DICT Mindanao Cluster 2 KonekTawag Centers, which operated from 8:00 in the morning up to 12:00 midnight in the following areas:
- PDRRMC, Dinagat Islands
- DICT Surigao del Norte Provincial Office, Surigao City
- DPWH Capitol Complex, Surigao City
- Municipal Compound of Libjo, Dinagat Islands
- San Jose Port, San Jose, Dinagat Islands
- Municipal Compound, San Benito,
- Municipal Compound, Burgos, Siargao Island
- Municipal Compound, Sta. Monica, Siargao Island
- Municipal Compound, Pilar, Siargao Island
Presently, the cluster reported an average of 50 users per day had been using their KonekTawag Centers.
“Up to the point in time when telecommunication services are fully reactivated, DICT Taskforce “Odette” in DICT Mindanao Cluster 2 will continue to provide services and strengthen initiatives such as the deployment of VSATs, KonekTawag Centers, Free Wi-Fi and Charging Stations in areas in Caraga Region that need them the most,” DICT MC2 Regional Director Sittie Rahma V. Alawi said.
As for Mindanao Cluster 3, which was not directly affected by the onslaught of typhoon Odette, no KonekTawag Centers were deployed within its AOR (area of responsibility).
However, through the initiative of Cluster Director Alimbzar P. Asum, the office responded to the communication needs of the disaster-stricken areas in Butuan City, Surigao City and Siargao Island thru the Government Emergency Communications System’s GECS-Mobile Operations Vehicle for Emergency (GECS-MOVE).
These GECS-MOVE were deployed last December 17, 2021, a day after the said typhoon hit those areas. The hub acted as the central communication point while the dispatch provided extended coverage of connectivity that also catered to the communication needs of the responders at Ground Zero, such as Local Chief Executives, OCD, the Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Red Cross, among other concerned agencies.
Two (2) units of VSAT facility were also installed and activated in Surigao City Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and in Sayak Airport, Siargao Island.
The DICT’s Mindanao Cluster 1, which was also not directly affected by the typhoon, extended aid to other affected regions through Government Emergency Telecommunications Teams (GETTeams), particularly in the AOR of Mindanao Cluster 2 and Visayas Cluster 2.
Through the provision of emergency telecommunications on the affected areas, the cluster offices were able to assist the communication needs in the effective delivery of relief assistance to affected communities.