122020 2

by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has asked Congress to urge Philippine Telecommunication Companies to link the farthest southern islands to the rest of the country by establishing digital connection through satellite facilities.

During a hearing conducted by the Mindanao Affairs Committee chaired by Representative Shirley Bañas last week, I brought to the attention of Congress the request made by residents of Taganak Island which I visited in March this year.

Taganak, which is part of the Province of Tawitawi and one of the islands in the Turtle Islands Group, is about a two-day boat ride from Zamboanga Cty.

From Sandakan, Sabah, however, it is only a 1-hour trip by speedboat.

The island has no communications facilities and residents have to scale a hill to be able to get a faint signal from Malaysian Telecommunication companies.

In March, when I attended a BIMP-EAGA conference in Kota Kinabalu as MinDA Chairman and Philippine Signing Minister, I received an offer from a Malaysian telecom for the establishment of a satellite station in Taganak and another southern island, Mangsee which belongs to the Province of Palawan.

While I was excited about the proposal, I realized later that it would not be a good symbol of an inclusive governance to allow foreign telcos to serve Philippine territories.

Establishing satellite facilities in Taganak and Mangsee Islands may not be a lucrative and profitable project for Philippine Telcos because of the small population.

This however, must be done if only to make people living in the edges of the country feel that they too are Filipinos who should be cared for.

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