April 17, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 963 views

In Marcos admin’s push for PH to adopt digital public infra

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Monday said he wants to make sure Filipino women won’t get left behind in the Marcos administration’s push for the Philippines to adopt a digital public infrastructure (DPI), even as he cited the success of women as an integral part of modern society.

Romualdez made this known after hearing the remarks of philanthropist and women advocate Melinda French Gates in her lecture at the World Bank (WB)-International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings.

“Melinda French Gates also mentioned how important the digital public infrastructure is to women’s empowerment. DPI provides them access to capital and opportunities. It gives them dignity and respect and allows them to engage in more activities,” Speaker Romualdez said.

The event took place Saturday (Philippine time) at the headquarters of the IMF in the United States capitol of Washington D.C.

Romualdez said he was both “impressed and inspired” by the lecture of French Gates, who is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s largest private charitable organizations.

The ex-wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, French Gates has written about women empowerment and is an advocate of increasing the number of women technologists in the workplace, having seen first-hand how men dominate the field.

“French Gates’ words ring true in that even in this day and age, women are still marginalized professionally. We cannot keep ignoring this unfortunate situation if we are to truly have an inclusive society. Luckily, digitization can be the great equalizer and place women on equal footing as men in terms of work opportunities, power, and influence,” the Speaker said.

Earlier Saturday, Speaker Romualdez, who represents Leyte’s 1st District in Philippine Congress, also attended a lecture on digital public infrastructure where he had a chance to speak to Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of Indian multinational information technology company Infosys.

Digital public infrastructure is defined as infrastructure that allows people to engage in public and civic life in digital space. It is funded mostly by the government and taxpayers and is not profit-oriented, unlike privately owned digital platforms that rake in billions mostly from advertising.

Speaker Romualdez suggested that the Philippines enter into a digital public infrastructure partnership with the United States (US) and India.

“There should be no stopping women from being key players in this infrastructure. We will make sure to empower women in this regard through legislation, once we have laid down this digital public infrastructure,” Speaker Romualdez said.

Romualdez, in his role as Speaker, has been a staunch supporter of the women’s movement in the House of Representatives. Under his watch, numerous women legislators have been placed in top posts, making them essential to the chamber’s daily operations.

“Women empowerment has definitely worked in our collective favor in the House of Representatives. To see this replicated across all workplaces through the flywheel of digitalization, will make French Gates proud,” he said.

Speaker Romualdez said on Sunday that digitalization will “prove to be the panacea to the economic problems left behind by Covid-19.”

The Philippine government under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had recognized the value of digital transformation and had been moving towards this goal way before the WB-IMF Spring Meetings.

Speaker Romualdez noted that building public digital platforms “is very much aligned with the campaign promise of President Marcos to speed up the country’s digital transformation”.

“This is the reason why the House of Representatives has passed the E-Governance/E-Government Bill, which seeks to shift the entire bureaucracy to the digital space for faster and transparent delivery of services, and for better engagement with the public,” he said.