Press Release
July 11, 2020

Bong Go: learn from COVID-19 experience to usher in 'better normal'; urges agencies to prioritize transition to e-governance for more efficient and responsive delivery of service

Aside from supporting calls of his fellow lawmakers to ensure access to fast and reliable internet for all Filipinos, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology and other concerned agencies to prioritize developing e-governance systems and transform the conduct of government processes to make government more efficient, accessible, and responsive to the changing times.

"Sa panahon ngayon, lahat nagta-transition na to online---from E-governance, E-commerce and also online learning. Importante na hindi po maiwan ang bansa pagdating sa transition to the digital age," Go said.

Go stressed that the necessity for e-governance in the country has been growing in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic which limits physical mobility and face-to-face transactions among government offices, and between the government, citizens and businesses.

"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 to the changing times," Go explained.

Go said that E-governance will bring the government closer to the people in these times through modern platforms.

"Matagal nang hinaing ng ating mga kababayan ang lumang sistema ng kalakaran sa gobyerno. Simpleng permit o lisensya, ilang araw inaabot at kailangang pisikal na pumunta at pumila pa sa mga opisina ng gobyerno. Hindi na po pwede 'yan ngayon," Go narrated as he explained how health and safety protocols currently imposed in the country cannot allow usual ways of transacting with government.

He added that despite the fact that most regular private and public operations have been put to a halt due to the pandemic, the need of our people to transact with its government and avail of help continues.

"Hindi po dapat magpatuloy na ganyang lumang sistema na lamang ang serbisyo ng gobyerno. Let us aim for a 'better normal.' Magmalasakit po tayo sa mga taong nangangailangan ng tulong lalo na sa panahon ngayon. Pabilisin po natin ang serbisyo at huwag na silang mas pahirapan pa," Go stressed.

"Gamitin natin ang teknolohiya upang mas maging maayos at komportable ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan at masigurong ligtas sila sa oras ng pandemya. Hindi lang dapat handa tayo sa 'new normal', kundi paghandaan natin na malatag ang 'better normal' para sa ating mga kababayan," he added.

Go, then, cited various levels of governance where e-governance will prove to be useful. These include government-to-government (G2G), government-to-citizen (G2C), and government-to-business (G2B) interactions.

"Due to the pandemic, government-to-government (G2G) processes, such as transactions between two government agencies, are heavily hampered because we are physically limited by the social distancing and quarantine protocols in place to contain the spread of the virus," Go explained.

"This will easily be resolved if we have e-governance platforms in place that would allow intra-government coordination and transactions to be done in an efficient, timely, and cost-effective manner," he added.

Meanwhile, Go said that Filipinos who need to transact with the government for public services will not need to go to physical offices if government-to-citizen (G2C) e-governance platforms are available.

"Kung mayroon din pong e-governance platforms sa G2C level, hindi na po mahihirapan ang mga kababayan natin na mag-avail ng frontline services ng gobyerno lalo na't hindi madaling lumabas ng ating mga kabahayan sa panahong ito," Go said.

"Gamit ang makabagong teknolohiya, magagawa mong makipag-transact sa gobyerno upang maka-avail ng mga serbisyo nito gaya ng pagkuha ng lisensya," he added.

Furthermore, Go also emphasized the need to build e-governance capacities in government-to-business (G2B) transactions to ensure that the economic activity in the country remains seamless amid the current pandemic.

"Mahalaga rin po para sa mga negosyo na magkaroon ng e-governance platforms na magagamit nila upang makipag-coordinate o transact sa gobyerno para masiguro na tuluy-tuloy lamang ang pagpasok at operasyon ng mga negosyo sa bansa," he said.

However, Go stressed that these undertakings will not be possible without swift and reliable internet access in the country. "The Philippines ranked 63rd out of 100 countries in the 2020 Inclusive Internet Index conducted by UK-based The Economist Intelligence Unit. The Index assesses internet availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness using multiple indicators."

"Nakakalungkot po ito isipin, because now, more than ever, a reliable and speedy internet connection has become integral in the everyday lives of our countrymen. This need exists not only in our urban centers but also in our rural and provincial areas as well," he said.

As one of those who pushed for blended learning in the country which ensures the continuity of education for Filipinos through online and offline modalities, Go also said that a speedy and reliable internet connection is an important element in ensuring the success of these efforts.

"I have also called on concerned agencies to thoroughly study the possibility of utilizing both online and offline learning, for the benefit of our youth. Gaya ng aking sinasabi, ayaw nating lahat na maantala ang pasukan at klase, ngunit ang prayoridad natin lagi ay ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng lahat. A speedy and reliable internet connection is an important element in our efforts, if we are to realize this goal," he added.

Go further mentioned that as early as the 2016 State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte has called on the DICT to develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technology to improve internet speed and coverage.

"Have we addressed the President's call? We want to find out the specifics, not just regarding the plans, but also regarding the progress we have made as a country when it comes to transitioning to E-governance," Go asked.

Go, then, called on his fellow lawmakers to work together to support the sectors of society who rely heavily on reliable, fast internet access.

"Let us work together to help our countrymen, specifically the working class, our youth, our business sector, and all other Filipinos, who depend on reliable and fast internet access and other technologies, to realize this basic but important need, as we move forward towards a 'better normal' beyond this pandemic," he said.

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