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Bong Go pushes e-governance

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 7/12/2020 Javier Joe Ismael
Christopher Go wearing a microphone © Provided by The Manila Times

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and other concerned agencies to develop electronic governance systems and transform the conduct of government processes to make them more efficient, accessible and responsive to the changing times.

“Sa panahon ngayon, lahat nagta-transition…to online — from e-governance, e-commerce and also online learning, importante na hindi po maiwan ang bansa pagdating sa transition to the digital age (Everybody is transitioning to online — from e-governance, e-commerce and also online learning. It is important that the country will not be left behind when it comes to transitioning to the digital age),” he said.

He added that e-governance was necessary, especially during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, which limits physical mobility and face-to-face transactions.

“Dahil sa Covid-19, kinailangan mag-evolve ang mga transaksyon na normally ay kailangang face-to-face. Importante rin na ang gobyerno ay mag-transition na rin (Because of Covid-19, transactions have to evolve from the usual face-to-face interactions. It is also important that the government will also transition). We should adopt more efficient, responsive and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. This will effectively make the government more in tune to the changing times,” the senator explained.

Go stressed that e-governance would bring the government closer to the people.

“Matagal nang hinaing ng ating mga kababayan ang lumang sistema ng kalakaran sa gobyerno. Simpleng permit o lisensya, ilang araw inaabot at kailangang pisikal na pumunta at pumila pa sa mga opisina ng gobyerno. Hindi na po pwede ‘yan ngayon (Filipinos have been complaining about the old system in the government. For a simple permit or license, it takes days and you need to be physically present and queue in the different offices of the government. That is no longer allowed),” he said.

He cited various levels of governance where e-governance would prove to be useful. These include government-to-government, government-to-citizen and government-to-business interactions.

“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 Filipinos who need to transact with the government for public services would not have to go to offices if government-to-citizen e-governance platforms are available.

He emphasized the need to build e-governance capacities in government-to-business transactions to ensure that economic activities remain seamless.

Go 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 [the United Kingdom]-based The Economist Intelligence Unit. The Index assesses internet availability, affordability, relevance and readiness using multiple indicators. Nakakalungkot po ito isipin (It is saddening) 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, Go said a speedy and reliable internet connection is vital to ensure the success of these efforts.

He recalled that in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has 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,” he said. “Let us work together to help our countrymen, specifically the working class, our youth, our business sector and all other Filipinos, who depend on reliable and fast internet access and other technologies, to realize this basic but important need, as we move forward towards a ‘better normal’ beyond this pandemic.”

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