Citing the risks of face-to- face transactions, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday called on the government and the private sector, particularly telecommunications companies, to provide reliable internet connectivity so that Filipinos can easily transition to online modes of transactions.
He underscored the importance of fast and reliable internet to avoid face-to-face transactions amidst the ongoing pandemic.
He cited as examples such as the transition of government to E-governance, students adapting to flexible or blended learning, and the public conducting online business transactions.
“This is already the new normal. A fast and reliable internet is a necessity. The Philippines should not be lagging behind because this is important in the development of the country,” Go said.
The senator commended the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s latest directive which seeks to accelerate the rollout of telecommunication infrastructure and service projects in the Philippines.
The Joint Memorandum Circular, currently being drafted by a joint task force composed of officials from the ARTA, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, aims to fast-track the construction of telecom towers.
By providing wider and more reliable access to the Internet, Go believes educational institutions will have more flexibility to implement a blended learning approach which integrates both online and offline modes of learning for students in any part of the country.
“Let us ensure that all students could be given equal opportunity under our learning continuity plan in all levels of education,” he said
The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education have said that there will be no regular face-to-face classes when the school year resumes on August 24.
Instead, all educational institutions shall resume remotely through online platforms, learning management systems and take-home packets, among others.
“Although we don’t like to delay classes, it is important that they should be safe. That’s our first consideration, the health of our children. For me, no vaccine, no physical classes or face-to-face learning,” said Go, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
Go also said that the ongoing crisis has laid bare the need to digitize other transactions that used to be handled in person.
The senator, who has been pushing for the transition to e-government platforms, expressed his support for the President’s call to improve the accessibility, efficiency and transparency of all government services through E-governance.
“I reiterate my call for all government instrumentalities to implement systems that shall make physical queuing a thing of the past,” said the President during his fifth State of the Nation Address delivered last July 27.
“We need e-governance [to provide] our people with the services they need [from] the comfort of their homes or workplaces. It will enable our bureaucracy to better transition into in the 'new normal' and cut or minimize red tape,” he added.
Go filed Senate Bill No. 1738 or the E-Governance Act of 2020 which mandates the establishment of an integrated, interconnected and interoperable internal government network.
This network will allow all branches, agencies, instrumentalities and offices of the national and local governments, including government-owned and controlled corporations, to share and communicate resources, information and data.
“In an age where almost everything can be done online and through other digital platforms, the government must harness the power of information and communications technology to better serve its purpose and bring the government closer to the people,” said Go.
The proposed measure will likewise create online public service portals, an internal records management system, an email and communications network for internal and intra-government communications, and a national directory of information on Philippine citizens, among others.
“We need to evolve— businesses are already transitioning to e-commerce and online transactions. Our education system is also championing blended learning. It is important for the government as a whole to expedite its transition as well,” Go added.