PLDT, Smart support Cebu City LGU vaccine drive in mountain communities

Supporting the government’s call, PLDT and Smart have enabled the Local Government of Cebu City to bring vaccines to hard-to-reach communities.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, PLDT and Smart have relentlessly enhanced their integrated network to better serve customers. This enhanced network has allowed PLDT and Smart to enable government-led advocacies that largely benefit communities.

“This COVID-19 health crisis has been a painful period for all and the arrival of these vaccines is a ray of hope.  Working with our government to deliver fast and reliable connectivity in COVID vaccination facilities situated in remote areas is priority for us at PLDT and Smart.  I believe that the sooner we get these vaccinations done, the more lives we will be able to save, and the quicker we can revive our economy and recover as a nation,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, President and CEO of PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications.

Enabling vaccination innovations in rural areas

Cebu City LGU is planning to vaccinate 700,000 Cebuanos against COVID-19 virus. However, this can only be achieved by bringing the vaccines closer to residents, especially those residing in mountain barangay communities. 

According to Cebu City Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, the move to bring the vaccines closer to residents in far-flung communities resulted from reports on residents’ sentiments about their fears towards the after-effects of the vaccines, as well as the difficulties they have encountered in signing up for their schedules and in travelling to the city and back to get their jabs. 

Another major concern was the availability of reliable signal and connectivity in the chosen locations where make-shift vaccination facilities will be situated. The pre-vaccination processes require connectivity because the database can only be accessed via the LGU’s designated website.

Ashley Ramirez, one of the encoders from the Vaccination Operation Center (VOC), has shared that Smart’s availability in the mountain barangays fast-tracked the pre-vaccination process. “We are thankful that the support of Smart has reached even far-flung communities. Connectivity is normally a challenge in the mountain barangays, but Smart’s coverage has reached long distances. We were able to accommodate a lot of residents who wanted to get vaccinated,” shared Ramirez.

Many residents were also glad to receive their jabs at the vaccination sites in mountain barangays due to their accessibility.

Kim Estoya, a resident from Barangay Busay, expressed his enthusiasm when he learned about the initiative. “I had COVID-19 a few months ago. I stopped working as a delivery rider for 2 months after the results. When I learned about the vaccination drive, I made sure to get vaccinated. I am so thankful to the LGU and the partners behind the initiative, more people in the mountain barangays will now be protected from the virus,” shared Estoya.

Under the partnership, PLDT and Smart have provided connectivity, tarpaulin signages, promotional freebies to the following sites that also cater to other neighboring barangays: Don Bosco Technological College-Cebu (DBTC), CREMDEC Training Center at Barangay Taptap, Barangay Bonbon Gymnasium, and NOAH Complex.

“Our partnership with Smart has made our thrust to vaccinate Cebuanos more efficient, easy and fast. Smart’s reliable connectivity enabled a seamless process for registration and reporting. We are truly grateful for the support. We look forward to more partnerships and engagements with Smart, a company that has a heart for public service,” says Cebu City Councilor Philip Zafra. 

Wireless Network Superiority in Mountain Barangays

To date, Smart’s mobile network serves over 96% of the country’s population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, including mountain barangays in Cebu.  Enabling these services is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country at more than 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021.

PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.