New DICT chief Honasan promises free Wi-Fi, tablets for poor kids

MANILA, Philippines – On his first day at work, newly appointed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio Honasan II promised more free Wi-Fi in public places.

Honasan inaugurated a free Wi-Fi access point at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on Tuesday, July 2, a day after he took his oath.

He said more hospitals will enjoy such services to connect patients with family members who cannot immediately visit them.

Honasan inaugurated a free public WiFi access point at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. He says more hospitals will get free WiFi soon. @rapplerdotcom — Ralf Rivas (@RalfRivas) July 2, 2019


Honasan added that he is aiming to connect far-flung areas to the internet to address the country's problems in education.

"We want to render classrooms obsolete, give [kids] a cheap tablet then use the barangay hall as learning center," Honasan said.

"The lecture will be beamed from the most competent teacher in Philippine Science High School," he added.

Honasan said no succeeding president would ever be able to catch up with the backlog of over 100,000 classrooms, which is why he sees technology as the solution.

"This thing about infrastructure is a thing of the past. It's time to build info-structures," Honasan said.

Can he fulfill these promises?

Former acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr, now the DICT's undersecretary for operations, said Honasan is fit for the top post. Rio cited the former senator's good management skills and over 4 decades of public service. (READ: 10 things to know about Gringo Honasan)

Honasan also aims to revamp the DICT and is likely to reshuffle or even add and outsource new talent to harness the agency's "dormant, technical capability."

"That is the free hand that we are trying to ask from the President and that was given categorically," he said. – 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.