Gov’t seeks ₱1.04B refund from foreign contractor in free Wi-Fi project

AdChoiceTV News — The Philippines is demanding at least $21.8 million (or over ₱1.04 billion) from the foreign contractor in its free internet access project, as a refund for the Wi-Fi sites the company failed to install after four years.

“Kaya po natin hinihingi ‘yung refund na ‘yan dahil hindi naman nila nakabit ‘yung mga Wi-Fi spots na yan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

[Translation: The reason why we’re asking for a refund is because they weren’t able to put up those Wi-Fi spots.]

The national government has sought to end its deal with service provider Speedcast after it said only 10,000 of the target 120,000 hotspots have been deployed since President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on free public Wi-Fi in 2017.

It also wants the project turned over to the Department of Information and Communications Technology, which Roque noted was able to set up 500% more sites than the contractor.

The presidential spokesman also earlier said Malacañang supports lawmakers’ plans to probe the project’s implementation, especially amid allegations of smuggling, bribery and negligence.

AdChoiceTV News is requesting for comment from Speedcast but no formal statement yet from them.

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan

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