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“Our future is digital. If you’re not part of it, you’re out of it,” said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner.

According to the UNDP’s human development report in 2019, digitalization and climate change are potentially the greatest drivers for inequality or greater equality. Such would depend on how we design digital ecosystems.

The administration of President Bongbong Marcos is very much aware of the importance of digitalization, which is why among his directives is to expand connectivity in the underserved and unserved areas in the country. Moreover, digitalizing government services to improve government productivity and efficiency in terms of delivering public services is also among the administration’s priorities.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John E. Uy also emphasized the importance of improving Philippine e-governance by making public transactions more efficient through digitalization.

During his first address to DICT employees, Secretary Uy stressed this, “We in the DICT have a very peculiar mandate, and that mandate cuts across all government agencies — to ensure that through ICT, we will be able to deliver to the Filipino people a better government, a more efficient government, a government that is easier to transact with, a government that is more competent, and a government that is not corrupt.”

The Covid-19 pandemic further highlighted the need to advance and improve digital governance as many citizens have turned to accessing government services and support online. It also revealed that the Philippines still has to address its limitations and challenges in e-government.

In the 2020 e-government Development Index (EGDI) of the UN, the Philippines ranked 77th out of 193 countries, which is two spots lower than its rank in 2018. The UN’s EGDI is a composite index consisting of three indices: The Telecommunication Infrastructure Index, the Human Capital Index, and the Online Service Index. Of these three components, the Philippines’ Online Service Index, which measures the government’s online presence and capacity to deliver services to its citizens, had a significant drop from 88 percent in 2018 to 73 percent in 2020.

The DICT’s Connect, Harness, Innovate and Protect (CHIP) Implementation Plan highlights a whole-of-society approach to digital transformation in response to the “new normal.”

The DICT aims to create and implement both mid-term and long-term plans for digital transformation across government sectors through improved interoperability and collaboration across the government and ecosystems. It will improve internal government operations by taking advantage of the digital tools and applications that would allow end-to-end online transactions, including but not limited to digital online payments, online validation, and information sharing. It shall also establish interoperability frameworks and standards in government ICT programs, tools and services, data, and processes.

Moreover, the DICT will encourage public participation online and open governance, foster good governance innovation with the use of data-driven perspectives in the whole-of-government, improve business innovation by establishing efforts on technology adoption in the business sector in the local government unit and national level, and take advantage of emerging and advanced technologies related to innovations.

With the right policies, digitalization will allow for greater inclusion and improve government’s efficiency in delivering services to underserved communities. This is the goal of the DICT.

In Secretary Uy’s own words, the DICT is committed to “delivering to the Filipino people the promise of a better life, a better future, and a better economy through a digitally empowered citizenry and government.”

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