SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged concerned authorities, specifically the National Task Force against COVID-19 with the participation of the Department of Information and Communication Technology, to work with the private sector to bolster efforts in adapting to the new normal amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Go said that many in the private sector have adapted well through the use of new technologies to continue their operations in a safe and convenient manner. Hence, the government must be open to collaborate and tap the expertise of the private sector to make public service delivery and pandemic response efforts more streamlined and efficient for the public.
“Maging bukas ang ating isipan sa mga suhestyon galing sa pribadong sektor. Ang laban kontra COVID-19 ay hindi lang laban ng gobyerno kundi laban ng buong sambayanan — ng buong mundo. Pakinggan natin ang mga gusto tumulong,” he said.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and principal author of the E-Governance Act of 2020 that is pending in the Senate, Go said that tapping mobile application developers from the private sector may complement existing efforts to make health and safety protocols more efficient, convenient and responsive to protect the people from COVID-19.
“Hindi pa natin alam kailan tayo makakabalik sa normal na pamumuhay. Habang ginagawa natin ang lahat upang mapabilis ang bakuna at rumesponde sa mga epekto ng krisis, gawin na rin nating mas madali para sa taumbayan na sundin ang health protocols na iniimplementa ngayon,” he said.
For instance, Go cited the need for a unified system of case surveillance especially in establishments where customers are required to fill up a certain form to help authorities monitor cases and aid in contact tracing.
“Halos lahat ng establishments may sariling requirement. Pasok ka sa isang building, fill up ka ng form. Pasok ka sa restaurant o store, fill up ka ulit ng form. Paglipat mo sa ibang lugar, may panibagong form ka na namang kailangan sagutin. Ayusin natin ang sistema dahil patuloy ang buhay ng mga tao habang iniiwasan natin ang pagkalat ng sakit,” he lamented.
He pointed out that maximizing available technologies for contact tracing, vaccine management, as well as documentation of testing results will help break the COVID-19 transmission chains and new infections are curbed at the earliest.
“Nagiging basic requirement na rin ang RT-PCR o kahit antigen testing sa ating pang-araw araw na gawain. Madalas kailangan natin maipakita na ‘negative’ tayo para makapasok sa trabaho. Dapat may sistema na para mastreamline ang pagdocument ng testing results at maiwasan rin yung mga namemeke ng dokumento,” he suggested.
The Senator praised private initiatives for the development of digital tools, such as a mobile application, which can expedite the identification of potential cases and their contacts, provide a convenient electronic referral pathway to hospitals, and serve as a digital passport for those already vaccinated.
“Ngayon rin habang marami na ang nababakunahan, ang pruweba na hawak ay simpleng papel lamang. Iba-iba pa ang format ng vaccine passes. Pwede naman natin i-automate ‘yan para malaman natin sino ang talagang nabakunahan na,” he recommended.
On this note, the Senator believes that emerging technologies and new trends in data processing will also offer new solutions to improve public service delivery and enhance good governance amid the ongoing crisis.
“As we adapt to the ‘new normal’, the transition to e-governance becomes crucial, particularly the digitalizing of government processes. E-governance will provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people and encourage citizen feedback and participation in governance,” he continued.
In July 2020, Go filed Senate Bill No. 1738, also known as the E-Governance Act of 2020, with the aim of reducing face-to-face transactions and addressing the inefficiencies plaguing the bureaucracy among others.
The bill mandates the creation of the Integrated Government Network which will act as the primary means for the sharing and communication of resources, information, and data through digital platforms across all of government. The IGN will serve as the government’s primary and focal information management tool and communications network.
The proposed measure will likewise create digital portals for the delivery of public services, an information database, and an internal records management information system.
If passed, the public will be able to better access and easily request government information, documents and forms via the internet anywhere and anytime. Most importantly, citizens can monitor the delivery of public services from start to end while any delay in procedures will be traceable to the exact office and individuals responsible.
“Despite the government’s own tireless efforts, it cannot fight this pandemic alone. We need a whole-of-nation approach to uplift the lives of all Filipinos amid these challenges. Let me emphasize, we are all part of the solution to this public health issue. Therefore, we must all share the responsibility if we want to recover from this pandemic,” said Go.
“Over the course of this pandemic, marami tayong mga natutunan. Nakita natin ang mga aspeto ng sistema na kailangan mabigyan ng pansin at ayusin, gaya ng ating disease surveillance and control capabilities, para maging mas handa ang ating bansa sa anumang health crisis na darating,” added Go.