Internet, particularly social media, has provided an extended platform for Filipino voters to learn about the electoral candidates and their proposed projects, as well as participate in public debates.
However, this platform is not accessible to every Filipino, especially the poor.
In the Philippines, more than half (60 percent) of the population have no direct access to the Internet, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). This situation creates the phenomenon of a 'digital divide'.
To bridge the gap and expand the reach of Internet, the DOST- through its Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO)- has initiated the 'Juan Konek Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places' under its Digital Empowerment Programme.
The project, which was conceptualised in 2014, is now in its initial phase of implementation. It targets to provide 7,118 free Wi-Fi hotspots in 43 major cities and 967 municipalities across the country.
"With Juan Konek, every Filipino shall have access to vital information readily available on the Internet that they could use in order to be digitally empowered citizens," said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo. "This reflects the DOST's thrust of utilising technology to improve the lives of every Filipino."
Since the project was designed to service the poor, the department has considered usability factors and anticipate possible issues. As such, the building of infrastructure will come side by side with training and support for users.
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