Politics.com.ph carried a story on Thursday, July 20, in which the Commission on Audit (COA) sternly criticized the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) for its disastrous implementation of the government?s free public WiFi program. [caption id="attachment_27418" align="aligncenter" width="620"] The government’s free Wi-Fi project was piloted in this public plaza in Tubigon, Bohol[/caption] The story branded the free WiFi project as a ?bust? and reported that COA is now raising doubts over the DICT?s ability to finish the P6.507-billion project this year. The WiFi initiative, dubbed ?Pipol Konek?, was started during the Aquino administration and continued by the DICT after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed a law institutionalizing the project. According to its annual audit report, the COA said ?the 19 private providers tapped by the DICT to implement the first phase of the program in 1,634 municipalities and cities nationwide ? P1.236 billion from March 2016 to October 2017 ? ?were either suspended, delayed, or not completed within the contract time.? The following are the contractors and their project cost:
1) Abratique & Associates Philippines ? P654 million
2) Joint Venture of Innove Communications and Yondu ? P332.27 million
3) PLDT ? P332.27
4) Joint Venture of AZ Communications Network (AZCOM)
Omniprime Marketing Inc. (OMI), Nexlogic Telecommunications Network, Inc.
and Neo-Tech Asia Distribution ? P192.4 million
5) We Are IT Philippines ? P32 millionThe COA noted that only 8 percent of the 1,407 of 13,024 sites were covered by the WiFi project by the end of 2017, according to Politics.com.ph. ?Thus, the targeted 18,332 sites with a total P6.507 billion estimated budget for 2018, is still very remote to materialize and to be accomplished by the DICT based on the record of their performance on all the contracts undertaken,? the COA said. The COA attributed the shortcomings to the DICT?s mismanagement or ?lack of meticulous and judicious planning coupled with ineffective coordination with the LGUs (local government units) and the private service providers.? ?The required permits such as building permits, and the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the barangays and municipalities on the set- up of the Free Wi-Fi project in the area were not secured. It took some time to obtain the needed documents which could have been addressed during the pre-procurement as well as during the pre-bidding conference, resulting in the suspension of some contracts and not meeting the specified contract time of completion,? the COA added. The audit agency said also noted that ?since no inspection/consultation was made by both the DICT and its contractors with the private telos prior to the procurement/implementation of the contract, they incurred problems in securing the MOA and the Joint-Pole Agreements (JPA).? ]]>