Philippines assumes Asean Digital Senior Officials Meeting chairmanship
AKLAN, Philippines — The Philippines assumed its role as this year’s Chair for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Digital Senior Officials Meeting (DGSOM) held here on February 7, 2023.
As Chair, the Philippines hosted the annual meeting from February 6, to February 8, 2023, in Boracay.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), led by Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue as Asean DGSOM Chair and Undersecretary Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo as Head of Delegation (HoD) for the Philippines, hosted the meetings on behalf of the Philippines.
The meetings started with the session between Asean Digital Senior Officials and delegates presided over by the outgoing Chair of the Asean Digital Senior Officials, Minister Soe Thein, Permanent Minister of ICT of Myanmar.
Here, nine projects were presented by the Asean Member States (AMS), which highlighted topics on Green Digital Initiatives, Emergency Response, the Importance of promoting Capacity Building to bridge the Digital Divide post-COVID-19, and matters of Cybersecurity where the delegation from Singapore encouraged working together to increase the cybersecurity posture of the region.
Incoming chair, Batapa-Sigue, led the afternoon session of the first day. In discussions that followed, Thailand proposed the establishment of a Scam Awareness Forum and an Asean Working Group on Online Scam (WG-AS) to raise awareness about scam-related activities and enhance cooperation and collaboration among Asean sectoral bodies against these.
Echoing the importance of addressing this issue, Batapa-Sigue also highlighted the Philippine Government’s efforts to address this pressing concern through the passing of the Philippine SIM Registration Act.
Thein turned over the chairmanship to Batapa-Sigue on the second day of the meetings.
Batapa-Sigue emphasized key developments achieved during the former chairmanship and laid out the direction for the Philippines’ chairmanship, which will focus on developing sustainable digitalization programs and platforms in the Asean region.
“We look forward to synergies for a safe Cyberspace, citizen-centric governance, Digital Inclusion, and Innovation-driven economies as hallmarks for a sustainable digital future,” Batapa-Sigue said.
The ADGSOM Chair also expressed optimism that the meetings will be a success with the support of the Vice Chair, Assistant Chief Executive Ian Mak of Singapore, and the cooperation of all the Asean Member States.
The session concluded with the Asean Member States’ partnership with Dialogue Partners from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), India, The United States of America (U.S.A.), the European Union (EU), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on the third day of the ADGSOM. The initiative will promote economic growth and digital development within the region. This will also emphasize the importance of enhancing cooperation and coordination on regional and international issues which is vital for economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.
“High-level policy making discussions, capacity building activities, and sharing of best practices would greatly benefit the AMS as we embark on digital transformation and as we address connectivity concerns particularly in the rural areas,” Undersecretary Lamentillo asserted during the meeting.
The ADGSOM meetings are part of the 3rd Asean Digital Ministers Meeting (DGMIN) and Asean DGSOM, and Related Meetings, a five-day gathering of digital leaders and key stakeholders in the Southeast Asian Region to discuss digital development and cooperation, and explore ways to utilize technology to drive digital and economic growth to improve the lives of Asean citizens. This event runs from February 6, to February 10, 2023.
With the theme “Synergy towards a Sustainable Digital Future” the meetings and activities are a reminder to Asean member states of the importance of connectivity both in terms of digital infrastructure and in relationships between the nations, and of looking into long-term cooperation to build the future of the region.
These meetings are significant for the Philippines, not just in gaining valuable support for its local ICT development, but more importantly in demonstrating its unwavering commitment to the Asean Community.