Isko Moreno to push for fiber-optic system to boost communications
MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said on Wednesday that his administration, if he would be elected president, would build a national fiber-optic system to boost the country’s communication capability, especially during natural calamities.
“I have said about a few months ago that we will build our communication backbone, from the tip in the north and south, all the way, Luzon Visayas, Mindanao, via fiber optic,” Moreno said during the “Ikaw Na Ba” presidential interviews on AM radio station DZBB.
According to the 47-year-old presidential aspirant, having a national fiber backbone will connect the Philippine islands and provide stable and reliable interconnectivity crucial to accelerating human and economic growth. It will also enable the Philippines to catch up with the modern world.
The subject was first broached by Moreno in November last year during a dialogue with hundreds of youths and students in Binangonan, Rizal.
The amount needed to build the needed fiber optic backbone would only be P45 billion, which is just 1 percent of the national budget, Moreno said.
This, he pointed out, could be achieved if the government would allocate even just 10 to 15 percent of the annual budget given the past years to the Department of Public Works and Highways for roads and bridges.
“After all, the information highway is itself a very important part of infrastructure development where the Philippines is a laggard compared to many countries,” he said.
“We can deliver this within the first 2 years of a new administration, if our people will decide on May 9 to choose someone different, someone with an innovative leadership,” he added, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
Unfortunately, the private sector proposal, Moreno said, had been repeatedly rejected due to the low absorptive capacity of the Department of Information and Computer Technology.
“The bulk of its budget reverted to treasury year in and year out due to lack of vision for digital transformation,” he explained.
Satellite internet access
Moreno also plans to acquire satellite internet access provided by Elon Musk’s Starlink, which provides high-speed broadband internet that 24 other countries now use.
“I hope someday that Elon Musk will be successful in deploying the low orbiter internet,” Moreno said in his radio interview. “So far, this low orbit satellite internet connectivity made Elon Musk in the US has been successful, and I hope someday our country can acquire such facility,”
“So that is for purposes of communication. We have copper [wires] through PLDT. We have airwaves through Wi-Fi, we have a physical backbone of communication, what we call internet highway that we are going to build and plan for a few billions for that matter. And we have a low orbiter satellite for our internet connectivity for connection and communication, especially in times of trouble,” Moreno added.
Speeding up government transactions
Besides communications, Moreno said having a national fiber backbone would be crucial in many aspects of government services like education and ease of doing business. It could also be an integral part of the fight against corruption and efficient tax collection.
Moreno said adopting a system of online transactions in government would reduce human discretion, which had always been the root of corruption.
“Human discretion will gradually disappear. As my professor in Boston said: ‘The only way to solve corruption is to limit human discretion in government transaction’,” he said.
“We have adopted that [online transactions] in the City of Manila, and this is scalable,” he went on.
‘[In] customs and other income-generating agencies of government, we have to adopt existing technology. All we have to do is to put direction, right perspective, the right mindset of a leader towards a better system for the people, and for us to collect properly so that we will not resort to raising taxes. We will become efficient, especially in collecting [fees and taxes], and we will become orderly and effective in spending,” he added.
The building of a fiber optic backbone is included in the 10-Point Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda that Moreno unveiled last Monday.
That event was also attended by his fellow Aksyon Demokratiko bets Dr. Willie Ong, who is running for vice president; Dr. Carl Balita, who is an educator and also a registered nurse running for senator; Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, and former Quezon City Councilor Jopet Sison.
Under Bilis Kilos, Moreno also plans to boost the country’s digital infrastructure by building and completing a national fiber backbone that will link together all schools, government offices, and industries that rely heavily on internet connectivity.
The improvement of the digital infrastructure, especially in sub-regional, regional, and metro centers, will ensure that everyone has access to the internet with at least 1 Mbps speed.
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