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Government to help more bidders qualify for auction to provide free public Wi-Fi services

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PHILSTAR

THE Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) will help more potential bidders qualify for the Free Public WiFi Project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), after only 18 firms submitted complete papers initially.

PITC President and Chief Executive Officer Dave M. Almarinez said that the company will revisit the bidding process because many bidders failed to submit complete documents. The PITC is the government body in charge of auctioning off the project.

The first phase of the bidding process is the determination of whether the interested groups have submitted sufficient proof of eligibility.

“The bidding is in May, so around August,” Mr. Almarinez said in an interview, referring to the timetable of awarding for the second batch of bids.

He said that many of those that submitted bids are first-time bidders for government projects, and the PITC will conduct a session to educate the companies on the requirements of the public bidding. Many did not qualify after failing to submit basic documents like a mayor’s permit. “Most are first-time bidders. So the next step would be like an educational conference to train them on the requirements,” Mr. Almarinez said.

“We expect more [companies to qualify]. The reason being, they will have known their deficiencies and addressed them to comply with what is required.”

For the project, a company can seek to become the provider for as many as 81 provinces.

Mr. Almarinez said around 18 that qualified in the initial round. The awarding for this group will be May or June.

The DICT plans to build 250,000 Wi-Fi access points before the end of the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2022. Republic Act No 10929 or the law authorizing the Free Internet Access Program was signed by Mr. Duterte in August.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the department targets around 7,000-8,000 access points for this year. Bids for the Free Public WiFi project will be conducted every year until 2022.

In case provinces attract no interested bidders, Mr. Rio said the department will enter into negotiated contracts after two failed bids. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo