Go urges DICT to develop e-governance systems to let PH achieve a ‘better normal‘
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should take the lead in developing systems for efficient e-governance so that the country could settle into a “better normal” as it continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go made this point in a statement issued on Sunday, noting how the pandemic had prompted people to turn to e-commerce and even online learning to limit face-to-face transactions.
“It’s important that the country would not be left behind in this transition to the digital age,” Go said in Filipino.
“Because of COVID-19, there’s a need to evolve from transactions that would normally be conducted face-to-face. It’s also important for the government to make the transition. We should adopt more efficient, responsive, and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. This will effectively make the government more in tune with the changing times,” he added.
He noted that people had long been complaining about the old style of governance, under which it would take them days just to get a simple permit and would have to be physically present at a government office.
“The old system of government service should not continue. Let us aim for a ‘better normal.’ Let’s take care of the people who need help, especially in these times. Let’s speed up our service and not add to their suffering,” Go said.
“Let’s use technology to make the lives of our countrymen more orderly and comfortable and make sure that they’re safe from the pandemic. We should not be ready just for the ‘new normal’ but for the ‘better normal’ for our countrymen,” he added.
He then cited the various transaction levels at which e-governance systems would prove useful – government-to-government, government-to-citizen, and government-to-business.
“Due to the pandemic, government-to-government processes, such as transactions between two government agencies, are heavily hampered because we are physically limited by the social distancing and quarantine protocols in place to contain the spread of the virus,” Go explained.
“This will easily be resolved if we have e-governance platforms in place that would allow intra-government coordination and transactions to be done in an efficient, timely, and cost-effective manner,” he added.
Meanwhile, Go said that Filipinos who need to transact with the government for public services need not go to its offices if government-to-citizen platforms were available.
Furthermore, Go also emphasized the need to build e-governance capacities in government-to-business transactions to ensure that the economic activity in the country would seamless amid the pandemic.
He stressed, however, that these undertakings would not be possible without swift and reliable internet access in the country.
“The Philippines ranked 63rd out of 100 countries in the 2020 Inclusive Internet Index conducted by UK-based The Economist Intelligence Unit. The index assesses internet availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness using multiple indicators,” he pointed out.
“It’s sad to think about it because now, more than ever, a reliable and speedy internet connection has become integral in the everyday lives of our countrymen. This need exists not only in our urban centers but also in our rural and provincial areas as well,” he said.
As one of those who pushed for blended learning, through online and offline modalities, Go also said that a speedy and reliable internet connection would be important.
“I have also called on concerned agencies to thoroughly study the possibility of utilizing both online and offline learning, for the benefit of our youth, ” he said. “As I have been saying, we don’t want to delay the opening of classes, although our priority always is the safety and health of everyone.”
Go mentioned that President Rodrigo Duterte, as early as his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, had called on the DICT to develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technology to improve internet speed and coverage.
“Have we addressed the President’s call? We want to find out the specifics, not just regarding the plans, but also regarding the progress we have made as a country when it comes to transitioning to E-governance,” Go said.
Go then called on his fellow lawmakers to work together to support the sectors of society that rely heavily on reliable, fast internet access.
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