Bong Go

Bong Go hails DICT for improving connectivity

September 20, 2021 People's Tonight 270 views

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go praised the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) under the leadership of Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, for its outstanding contributions to develop the Philippine ICT infrastructure and provide more accessible, affordable and reliable ICT services to the Filipino people.

The DICT has made major improvements to the country’s communications services over the past five years, according to Go. He also welcomed enhanced fair competition in the telecommunication sector which spurred product innovation within the telco industry.

“In an age where almost everything can be done through online and digital platforms, the government must harness the power of [ICT] to better serve its purpose and bring the government closer to the people,” said Go.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Go called on the government to prioritize digital transformation in its transactions to bring public services closer to the people in a safe and convenient manner.

“The new normal warrants the government to consider and adopt, in a very radical but pragmatic way, the importance of digital transformation to enable the government to do better,” he emphasized.

In its recent presentation to the President, the DICT showed that it has overseen a major increase in the number of telco towers, from 16,051 in 2017 to 25,313 in July 2021, to help reduce the digital divide. It also expanded the installation of fiber optic cables from 230,928 kilometers to 632,732 km over the same period.

These efforts have resulted in the average fixed broadband internet speed leaping from 7.91 megabits per second in 2016 to 72.56 Mbps in August 2021 and the average mobile internet speed increasing from 7.44 Mbps to 33.77 Mbps.

The aforesaid initiatives were partly made possible by a joint agency effort in 2020 to streamline the permitting process by reducing the requirements from 86 to 35 and the processing time from an average of eight months to just 16 days.

On this note, the Senator also recognized the steps taken by the agency to address the increased demand for low-cost, high-speed internet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 10,966 free Wi-Fi sites have been installed in numerous public hospitals, quarantine facilities, public schools and residential areas across the country, as of August 2021. Of the figure, 4,305 sites alone were constructed in 2020.

He likewise hailed the DICT’s e-learning program and capacity building activities to assist the underemployed, women, rural populations, and other marginalized groups so they can benefit in terms of livelihood and employment. Under the Tech4Ed Program, the agency has established 4,745 e-centers in communities with little to no access to information and government services.

“We cannot wait any longer to address the critical need for better broadband services. Millions of students cannot learn without fast and reliable internet while thousands of new small businesses need internet access 24/7,” continued Go.

“As I’ve said before, we need to carefully balance our economic and health objectives. By ensuring that government services remain operational by maximizing available technologies, we can help Filipinos easily adapt to the new normal, mitigate the health risks and help the economy recover,” he noted.

Go also expressed confidence in the potential of new technologies to improve the delivery of public services, reduce corruption and bureaucratic red tape, such as the Integrated Business Permit and Licensing System, Central Business Portal and other programs of the DICT which speed up the process of registering new businesses.

While the government has made great strides in working towards President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision of a connected and unified Philippines, the Senator underscored the need to build on such achievements and rise to new challenges.

He reiterated his appeal for the swift passage of Senate Bill No. 1738, also known as the E-Governance Act, to facilitate the development of a digitally empowered and integrated government that can provide more responsive and transparent citizen-centered services.

Filed in July 2020, Go’s proposed bill shall establish the Integrated Government Network, a digital and electronic platform for sharing and communicating data, information and resources across all of the government. It will serve as the government’s primary and focal information management tool and communications network.

The measure will also create various digital portals for the delivery of public services, an internal records management information system, and an information database.

By digitalizing government processes, Go explained that individuals and businesses will easily overcome the physical and mobility limitations to accessing citizen services and business transactions.

“Furthermore, it will ensure that business processes and transactions in the country remain seamless and fully operational despite the challenges presented by outbreaks and pandemics. Ito ‘yung gusto nating mangyari—ang mabawasan ‘yung red tape at mapabilis ang proseso dahil nahihirapan na ang ating mga kababayan, lalong-lalo na panahon ng pandemya,” said Go.

“However, in addition to reducing red tape, I am confident e-governance will also help eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, and encourage citizen feedback and participation in governance in the long-term.”