DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy (Photo courtesy of DICT)

MANILA – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) continues its rollout of the BroadBand ng Masa Project (BBMP) by providing free Wifi connection to three islands in the southern part of Mindanao.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said these are the islands of Sacol, Pangapuyan, and Tictabon.

He said Sacol Island, the largest of the three in the Zamboanga Peninsula, has a population of 12,000.

“Ito po ay katuparan ng pangako ni President [Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.] na abutin natin ang mga liblib na lugar sa buong bansa (This is to fulfil the promise of President Marcos to reach the most remote parts of the country), and we thought it would be best to start from the farthest,” Uy said.

These areas, he said, have no access to mobile cellular services and lose electricity during the evenings.

“They have to take a PHP200 ‘banca (boat)’ ride from that island to Zamboanga City in order to attend classes or in order to speak to their relatives abroad,” he said.

The BBMP equipment was installed with the help of locals and DICT engineers, following a request from Majority Leader Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Mannix Dalipe.

In areas with limited or no access to power, the project includes the installation of solar and gas-powered generators.

“There was one mother who was … napaiyak ‘no dahil finally raw ay nakakausap niya iyong anak niya na nagtatrabaho sa Middle East at hindi na siya kailangan maghintay pa na makaipon ng pera upang makabiyahe sa Zamboanga City (There was one mother who cried because she’ll finally be able to call her child working in the Middle East and she won’t have to wait until she has saved enough to travel to Zamboanga City),” Uy said.

To date, he said about 30 percent of the Filipino population has no access to internet connectivity, with the DICT aiming to connect more geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) through the BBMP.

“Last month, we also installed in Basilan, in the cities of Lamitan and Isabela,” he said.

However, he noted that “100 percent” connectivity throughout the country may not yet be possible due to the DICT’s limited budget, with the BBMP currently being rolled out in GIDAS with large populations that have no access to the internet.

Once Starlink begins its rollout in the country, he said the installation of free Wifi hubs will be easier and faster.

“Mas mapapadali po dahil instead of setting up a building/tower, we just have to bring the satellite dishes there (It will be easier because instead of setting up or building a tower, we just have to bring satellite dishes there),” he said. (PNA)