On early Sunday morning last 01 November 2020, Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) ravaged the country from the moment it made its first landfall in the island province of Catanduanes. Bringing with it violent winds of over 200 kilometers per hour and torrential rainfall, the Bicol Region was the worst hit by Rolly.
Catanduanes, in particular, is now a scene of wreck – damaged houses and other buildings, trees knocked over, power lines down, and all telecommunication signals halted.
As soon as the skies turned clear, the DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All Program, through the assistance of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), made their way to Catanduanes to provide needed ICT emergency communications relief to the province. With sets of equipment in tow, the team installed Free Wi-Fi access points in the Provincial Capitol of Catanduanes in Virac in coordination with the Provincial Government of Catanduanes headed by Governor Joseph Cua.
With Free Wi-Fi for All available at the Provincial Capitol building (i.e. Conference Room, Provincial Emergency Operations Center Room, and Governor’s Office) as well as at the Provincial Plaza, both residents and Capitol staff now have access to crucial lines of communication. Aside from facilitating the reporting and exchange of vital information, the people of Catanduanes will now also be able to reach their loved ones outside the island and assure them that they are all right.
The restoration of other affected Free Wi-For for All sites in Catanduanes and the entire Bicol Region is under way as well, with services already restored in a few sites in the municipalities of Viga and Pandan.
This initiative is under the leadership of the DICT’s Office of the Secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines, Office of the Director for the Government Digital Transformation Bureau, the Free Wi-Fi for All Program – Program Management Office, and the DICT Regional Operation Office – Luzon Cluster’s 2 and 3.