DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima shares his plans to digitalise Philippines

He talks about his agency's efforts to ensure that the country is ready to compete in the digital era.

By Adrian M. Reodique
Jan. 24, 2017

Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima. Credit: Adrian M. Reodique

When former President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Republic Act 10844 to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Rodolfo Salalima was on the plane to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the council meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Salalima used to be a private litigator and practitioner. He was also once the Senior Vice President for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, and Assistant Corporate Secretary, at Globe Telecom. He used to head the Globe Telecom Holdings, Inc too.

Besides that, he was doing pro-bono work for the Philippines' government as the country's adviser and spokesperson in ITU's council, and plenipotentiary meetings, before being appointed as the DICT secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte last June.

Accepting the position was not an easy decision for Salalima. "There were some second thoughts because I used to work in the private sector and doing a government job is a sacrifice [as] I have to close my law office so I can assume [the position]," he said in an exclusive interview with Computerworld Philippines.

"But I feel that I am happy that in the last part of my life; at least I'm doing something for our government, for our people, at least I am going to leave a legacy to the Filipino people as the first Secretary of the DICT," he added.

As the head of the seven-month old department, Salalima said their priority projects are in line with the mandate of President Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2016. This includes the development of a National Broadband Plan (NBP), boosting Wi-Fi access in public areas, and the creation of a National Government Portal (NGP).

Improving internet access in the Philippines

According to Salalima, under the proposed NBP, the government will establish broadband infrastructures from the northern to the southern parts of the country. This aims to deliver telecommunications services to government agencies and areas in the countryside without access to the internet.

The government had three options to implement the plan. First was to build a passive network infrastructure to be leased and operated by telco companies. The second choice was to build a broadband infrastructure operated by the DICT. The last option was to build a network and enter as a complete telecommunications player.

After previous consultation with other cabinet officials, Salalima said that DICT will implement the second option.

"Now the Undersecretary Dennis Villorente is fleshing out, putting details on the National Broadband Plan for approval of the President. Hopefully, by the end of January, we may be able to present the broadband with some details," he added.

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