#BayangDigital: Providing Efficient Public Service to every Filipino household

June 10, 2024


Barangay (small village) officials are considered the frontliners in dispensing government services. As the leaders of the smallest administrative units in the country, they ensure that public services, important community updates, and peaceful resolutions to neighborhood disputes are brought to every household. Key to the successful administration of a barangay is ensuring that residents are given the opportunity to provide feedback to their officials and easy access to government services. One enabler of this community engagement is the availability of free and easy access to the internet. With 65% of Filipinos unconnected to the internet, there is a need to expand the country’s digital infrastructure to ensure that efficient public service is made available to everyone.

In Barangay Habay 1, Bacoor, Cavite, the lack of easy access to the internet hinders the delivery of public services. For instance, barangay officials must go from house to house when giving important updates to their constituents which consumes much of their time. Residents resort to using mobile data to process government documents, connect with families, and access other important information. But, it also comes with challenges. “Sometimes [the mobile data] is slow, weak, and it disconnects frequently.” expressed Carla Arao, a patient from the RHU who uses mobile data to access information from the government.


Barangay officials in Habay 1, Bacoor, Cavite


When we need to contact residents, we have to physically visit their homes because communication is very difficult. Students, especially those from households who cannot afford to have a Wi-Fi connection, also find it difficult to do research for their studies," shared Councilor Percusal Pelayo and Administrator Jojo Arbis of Barangay Habay 1.


Kawit RHU's administrative staff often encounter difficulties in processing vital government data due to lack of internet access


In nearby Kawit, Cavite, administrative staff John Emata mentioned how the rural health unit (RHU) faces challenges in providing essential health services due to a lack of internet access. This not only leads to backlogs in uploading necessary data required by the Department of Health (DOH) but also adversely affects health services promotion and education programs. “We encounter a lot of technical challenges. We are not able to familiarize ourselves enough with the DOH’s systems because of the lack of Internet access. On some days, we see up to 150 patients and this creates problems when uploading the necessary information to PhilHealth’s systems," he said.


The CoRe FW4A project helps the timely delivery of government services to residents through free and easy access to the internet


To address these gaps in digital connectivity and provide efficient public services in the barangays and RHUs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to provide Internet communication equipment and services under the Connectivity, Capability, and Resiliency through Free Wi-Fi for All (CoRe FW4A) project. Barangay Habay 1 is one of the DOH-identified areas that received Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to ensure reliable internet connectivity. Meanwhile, Kawit RHU is one of the 150 public health facilities across the Philippines that have installed and activated free Wi-Fi access points (APs), helping the efficient delivery of medical services. Since the start of the CoRe FW4A project, more than 1 million unique users nationwide have benefited from these initiatives.


Zayin Ziv Morales [left] is a small-business owner residing in barangay Habay 1, while Carla Arao [right] is a Kawit resident who avails of medical services at their RHU


The free Wi-Fi service was commended by the residents for its accessibility. The project contributed in building better feedback mechanisms between the residents and the barangay. It also provided the residents with growth and learning opportunities through improved access to internet services. “Because of the free Wi-Fi, our transactions with the barangay became faster. My siblings also use the free Internet to help in doing their assignments," shared Zayin Ziv Morales, a small business owner and resident of Barangay Habay 1. “The free Wi-Fi helped quickly find information that can help women seek [medical] assistance," added Carla Arao.

With the ongoing CoRe FW4A project efforts, the rollout of Free Wi-Fi is expected to continue in 2024. This initiative has already significantly improved access to essential services and communication in underserved areas. Looking ahead, the project is set to be scaled up, reaching even more communities and amplifying its positive impact. By bridging the digital divide, the CoRe FW4A project is paving the way for greater connectivity and enhanced quality of life for all Filipinos.