Internet fright
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

Don’t look now but a source from Malacañang claims that DICT Secretary Rudy Salalima is currently under scrutiny and evaluation because nothing much has changed in terms of customer satisfaction with Telecoms services as well as connectivity. Apparently the President is pissed off and irritated by the never-ending replay of complaints from foreign investors and the business sector.

Our resident expert Mr. Boo Chanco told me that there are tons of studies available to government and private sector that provide various solutions to the many problems concerning Internet speed and mobile service reliability and competitiveness. But because no one bothers to go through the studies and implement some of the solutions, it raises suspicions that people in government, including Secretary Salalima are still “protective” of their former colleagues in the industry.

I am not a techy or an analyst so I’ll leave the “knowhow” part to the industry and its KOLs. Putting aside all the technicalities, I have to defend Secretary Salalima on his so-called “non-performance” because I saw first hand how he tried to get the ball rolling when we met up at the first Philippine Telecommunications Conference last year where he and the participants were quite candid and laid out all their problems and complaints. It quickly became apparent that even if the DICT wanted to crack the whip to get all stakeholders moving, the truth of the matter is that from that time to now, other departments such as the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice are not eager about going after corrupt, bribe hungry Mayors and Vice Mayors and Councilors.

In fact I had to corner, if not bully, a DILG Undersecretary into making a declaration of support and action to “convince” LGU officials to issue all the necessary permits without asking the usual P300,000 to P500,000 per cell site tower. In fairness to the DILG and the DOJ, they also don’t have the numbers or manpower to go filing cases against hundreds of corrupt local officials. To make matters worse these corrupt LGU officials have backers called Congressmen who are willing to “scratch their backs” or do their bidding because LGU officials are the vote getters for any Congressman. Like attack dogs, they can cut guys like Salalima down to size or threaten them with P1 budgets!

Aside from trying to speed up permits down to six days, Salalima also pushed hard for to revive or make an all new National Broadband System that could fill the gap or absence of mobile and Internet service in poor far-flung provinces that usually have the highest potential for tourism development. I have repeatedly pointed out that in my many travels all over the Philippines for B-Meg Feeds, the two things needed the most to spark development in tourism or agriculture is telecommunications and accessibility. Even if the government telecommunications facility operated only outside Metro Manila and urban centers where they won’t be taking away money from Globe and Smart, the broadband will help national development, not to mention motivate more urbanites or city dwellers to go out to the provinces.

Instead of isolating Rudy Salalima, I would suggest that the Secretary to the Cabinet or the Executive Secretary assist their colleague. Changing horses or stirring suspicion and doubt does not get the job done. Focus, Focus, Focus gets the job done not petty politics.

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I’ve never had the time to publicly thank the doctors and staff of the National Kidney Transplant Hospital especially the great nurses and doctors at the ICU who were exceptional in managing our crisis and eventual loss of my Mom Marita.

In spite of the tragic end, it is a great compliment to NKTI that we thank them and promote them to all our friends and readers because many Filipinos have ignorantly assumed that ALL government hospitals are squalid or bankrupt or run like a junkyard. That is so far from the truth. Given a choice I would have no second thoughts checking in at the NKTI or the many other government hospitals that provide private rooms as well as wards (if you can get in). Not many people realize that the Department of Health and administrators of government hospitals have for a couple of decades quietly worked at improving, renovating and upgrading their facilities. This is why I am almost violent in my opposition to privatization.

The public sector has many qualified managers and physicians who can run hospitals up to par with private hospitals, but the problem is Congress has not focused on passing a program and law that will prioritize building more hospitals and funding their improvement. Instead of issuing Letters of Guarantee that we are all grateful for, it might be better if we pass a law that funds and requires the continuous construction or development of (Congressional) District hospitals so each district has their own hospital or combine several to have a common district hospital.

In addition to having real full size district hospitals there should also be regional hospitals that can provide the expertise, facilities and service that the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, kidney Center etc. provides. I learned that the NKTI has assisted such a project in Negros probably Bacolod. This is a project that should be “investigated” by Congress and the Senate because so many regional hospitals have degenerated. Congress and the Executive should also look into what is being done to provide continuing education and training for public healthcare providers.

One of my physicians told me of a medical mission they had just completed that took a different direction when their local contact who was also a doctor told them: We appreciate your outreach and service to our community, but to be honest once you leave, the same conditions will remain. Perhaps it would be better if you made the medical mission a training seminar for all the healthcare providers in our place. That way, even after you leave, the knowledge and the healing will continue based on what you taught and what you shared.

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