DOST-ICTO opens field office in Visayas to implement projects

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


TO better implement the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) has formally established a field office for the Visayas.

Launched last Friday, the Visayas Cluster 2 Field Operations Office (FOO) covers the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran. The provinces of Negros Oriental and Siquijor are under the first Visayas Cluster, which covers most of Western Visayas.

DOST-ICTO Executive Director Luis Napoleon Casambre was in Cebu with the new staff headed by officer-in-charge Jose Bagulaya for their strategic planning meeting to define the FOO’s direction in implementing the ICTO’s objectives.

Bagulaya said the first thing on their agenda is to inform local government units, national government agencies and stakeholders of the FOO’s presence and mandate so they can work in collaboration.

Bagulaya and most of the staff of the Visayas FOO came from the Telecommunications Office, which was once tasked to provide telephone services to the rural areas of the country. The Visayas FOO will take up the old headquarters in between the Philippine Postal Corp. and the Malacañang sa Sugbo. Bagulaya said they have begun reorganizing so they can start working.

He admitted, though, that they are still in transition and still have a skeletal structure. They currently have a staff of 120.

He also admitted the challenge he is facing as head of the Visayas FOO, saying his former duties of introducing telephone services to rural areas is to vastly different from introducing Internet connectivity to those who still do not have access.

The ICTO hopes to connect 99 percent of the Philippines and get 1.3 million employed by the information technology-business process management sector by 2016. It also aims to have three more next wave cities and three more centers of excellence in the field.

Casambre admitted some hurdles in achieving these goals, including constitutional constraints and mindsets of some leaders.

He said 83 percent of the country is without connectivity while the average subscription for Internet is P1,000 a month, which can be costly for most.

However, he hopes that the programs they have in store will get them closer to achieving their goals and getting more people connected. “ICT has so much to contribute to Philippine society,” Casambre said. MEA

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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