Press Release
November 24, 2023

31st APPF: As the youngest senator, Sen. Mark Villar Co-Chairs Roundtable Discussion of Young Parliamentarians

As the youngest parliamentarian of the Philippine Senate, Senator Mark Villar co-chaired the Roundtable Discussion of Young Parliamentarians at the 31st Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum.

"We are all witnesses to how digitalization is rapidly changing our economic and social landscape. In fact, our roundtable today is not a fixture in the past Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forums, which signifies the imminent need for our intervention in digital technology," Senator Mark said in his opening remarks.

The APPF is a forum of Asia-Pacific countries that promotes multilateralism and parliamentary dialogue. After nearly three decades since the Philippines first hosted the APPF in 1994, it had the privilege to host it again this year. With the overall theme of "Resilient Partnerships for Peace, Prosperity, and Sustainability," the forum also includes meetings for women and young parliamentarians, in addition to the fixed forums of political and security, economic and trade, and regional cooperation. The young parliamentarians' discussion, in which Senator Mark participated in, presented the plans and current situation of digital technology in each member country.

"As the impact of digitalization has become more apparent each day, I fully support the e-governance digitalization plans of our government. However, I also recognize the points that need to be addressed first before we fully embed our government in the digital world," Senator Mark said.

Senator Mark emphasized that the pursuit of a digital future should be founded on strong safeguard measures and effective digital infrastructure. He further claimed that the recent cyber attacks against government websites have shown how dangerous it will be for the government and the people should digital technology fall into the wrong hands.

"One of the most pressing issues that we need to look into is the strengthening of the country's cybersecurity...stronger safeguards and effective digital infrastructure are needed to be achieved before we pursue e-governance. This is to ensure that our e-government will both be efficient and secure for our people," Senator Mark added.

Senator Mark further identified AI technology as an important aspect of digital technology. He encouraged the other member countries to pursue collaborative efforts for the regulation, adoption, and use of AI, given its advantages and disadvantages.

"...we also recognize the risks that AI technology possesses such as the possibility of job displacement, the widening of income inequalities, as well as the exacerbation of biases. Most importantly, it has the risk of compromising national security. It is urgent that we formulate regulations for AI to prevent any untoward events from happening," Senator Mark said.

After the roundtable discussion, Senator Mark joined the delegates in a luncheon where they further diplomatically conversed on possible collaborations regarding digital technology.

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