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DICT, Baguio sign MoA for free public Wi-Fi, city broadband network

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the city government of Baguio have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for a partnership to establish a broadband network and provide free Wi-Fi /internet services in public places in the city.

The MoA signing was held last week at the Baguio Convention Centre with DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan and Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a press release informed. Honasan noted that apart from DICT’s mandate under Free Wi-Fi for All and the National Broadband Program, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the agency to ramp up connectivity. More daily services and activities are taking place online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where online transactions and communications play an important role.

Honasan explained that the trend towards digitalisation is one of the most urgent concerns that the government needs to tackle in the new normal.  The recognition of this need is at the heart of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s instructions for DICT- to connect the government to other governments, domestic and global, government to businesses, government to citizens, and everybody to each other.

The MoA between DICT and the city government of Baguio aims to facilitate and accelerate, through cooperative efforts, the implementation and roll-out of free internet access in all public places of the city. It is as mandated by the Free Internet in Public Places Act.

Under the partnership, DICT will provide infrastructure and technical support to the city as it establishes the Baguio Broadband Program, which, apart from the provision of free Wi-Fi in public places, will also ensure the connectivity of national line agencies and local government offices.

The release further noted that Mayor Magalong, on behalf of the city government of Baguio, expressed gratitude to DICT for the partnership, as it will help bring in the National Broadband Program to the city of Baguio and connect it with its ‘SMART City System’ plan.

The Mayor stated that soon, Baguio City will start the construction of the smart city system and DICT’s infrastructure support will be important in ensuring that the system will be running efficiently. Through the system, the city government can provide free internet access to government agencies and public places. More importantly, it will help facilitate the online learning of the blended education programs that are being implemented by schools.

Local government units (LGUs) from across the country are ramping up connectivity services for students to benefit from online learning courses. Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced it plans to issue a supplemental policy to prevent, detect, report, and handle child protection issues in home-based learning as the school year is set to start on 5 October.

In a press release, DepEd noted it recognised that there are threats and dangers to the privacy, security, and safety of children in the cyberworld, especially during this time when online learning is one of the learning delivery modalities and children spend considerable time online.

The supplemental policy will strengthen the existing mechanisms on child protection and include the recommendations of the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OC) on the use of video conferencing in online classes.

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