Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed his support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to telecommunications companies to improve their services for Filipino consumers. The Senator said that improving internet connectivity will help in the transition to E-governance.
“I urge the private sector to help the government in uplifting the lives of Filipinos, especially in these trying times. Now, more than ever, people’s welfare must be prioritized over profits for a few. Unahin po natin ang kapakanan at interes ng ordinaryong Pilipino,” Go said.
During his State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2020, President Duterte demanded telecommunications companies to improve their services in the next months.
The President also emphasized the need to maximize information and communications technology in order for the country to transition to E-governance and help the public adapt to E-commerce, E-learning, and other online-based transactions that are crucial given the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the people’s regular activities.
“Ang E-governance ay makakatulong upang maiwasan ang red tape, walang matutulog na dokumento, at walang mahabang pila na parusa sa taong bayan,” Go said.
“Tulad ng sabi ng Pangulo, panahon na para mawala ang pangangailangan na pumila para mapagsilbihan ng gobyerno,” he added.
Go explained that the Philippines still lags behind its neighbors when it comes to internet speed and access. Go cited the 2020 Inclusive Internet Index which reveals the country’s sorry situation in terms of internet availability and affordability, among other indicators.
“Kahit ako nga nahihirapan sa internet connection. ‘Yung mga Senate sessions, hearings at meetings ngayon ay virtual na bilang pagsunod sa social distancing measures. Apektado ang trabaho kapag mabagal at hindi reliable ang ating internet connection,” Go said.
“Gandahan sana ang serbisyo pagdating sa access to the internet upang matulungan ang mga taong mamuhay sa panahon ng ‘new normal’,” he added.
Go also decried the fact that even countries like Zimbabwe and war-torn Syria have faster internet speeds than the Philippines, as shown in the latest Speedtest Global Index study. He mentioned that for the country’s learning continuity plan, as well as efforts to jumpstart the economy, to be a success, speedy and reliable internet connection is vital.
The Senator also mentioned that the call of the President for government processes to transition to e-governance will require improvements in the country’s internet quality, investments in ICT equipment, and the public’s access and awareness in utilizing such technologies to improve their lives.
Last July 27, Go filed a measure institutionalizing the transition of the government to e-governance in the digital age amid the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill No. 1738, or the E-Governance Act of 2020, mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and interoperable information and resource-sharing and communications network spanning the entirety of the national and local government, an internal records management information system, an information database, and digital portals for the delivery of public services.
Go reiterated the benefits of prioritizing the transition to e-governance platforms, saying that they will reduce red tape and corruption, and improve the efficiency and productivity of government processes.
“Having a transparent, efficient, and responsive delivery of government services is key to reducing corruption and empowering the people to exact accountability from public servants,” he emphasized.
The measure likewise pushes for the digitization of paper-based and other traditional modes of workflows for a more efficient and transparent public service.
“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. We should adopt more efficient, responsive, and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. This will effectively make the government more in tune with the changing times,” the Senator explained.
Meanwhile, Go commended the ongoing efforts of the Department of Information and Communications Technology to improve internet connectivity in the country, including the establishment of free wifi areas in public places nationwide. However, he lamented that more efforts must be done in order for the country to adapt to the new normal and improve public service delivery.
“Let us work together to help our countrymen, specifically the working class, our youth, our business sector, and all other Filipinos, who need to be able to utilize reliable and fast internet access and other ICTs, to improve their lives as we move forward towards a ‘better normal’ after this pandemic,” Go said.