July 16, 2024

Representatives from local government units in the Cordillera have committed to accept and ride the tides of the digital world as they joined in the 4th leg of the Department of Information and Technology Regional Roadshow in Baguio City on June 20 and 21.

DICT Sec. Ivan John Uy led the opening of the roadshow, as he committed the agency’s full support in ushering Cordillera provinces in achieving the government’s goal of a “Bayang digital, bagong Pilipinas” which lays down the blueprint for a future where every Filipino is empowered, every community is connected, and every industry is invigorated through the power of digitalization.

“For the DICT, ang Bagong Pilipinas ay isang bayang digital – an advanced and interconnected society where technology serves as the backbone of progress and inclusivity,” Uy said.

He said this is done by implementing innovative and impactful programs across the country, especially in the Cordillera where DICT has advanced the “bayang digital” vision in the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Baguio City.

Uy added the region is peculiar because of challenges of terrain and it is not an easy task to provide connectivity through mountains and valleys of the region.

In 2023 the DICT-Cordillera has expanded the free Internet access program in public places establishing numerous sites in the region which has revolutionized access to educational resources healthcare services and the digital job market for its residents, making these vital services more accessible and convenient than ever before.

Uy reported as of May 2024, there are already 480 active satellite internet sites in the region. The Cordillera Regional Development Council also made as priority program having enabled provinces that enjoy widespread internet access, with about 50 active sites per municipality in the average.

DICT has also facilitated 10 engagements for the expansion of the e-GovPh application in Benguet and Kalinga where aspiring ICT professionals are undergoing rigorous competency evaluations conducted by DICT-Cordillera under the supervision of regional trainers from the ICT Literacy and Competency Bureau.

Digital transformation centers have also been established in the region which serve as vital hubs for up-skilling and business training in the ICT industry and pivotal in fostering a new generation of digitally proficient professionals and entrepreneurs.

In the Cordillera, these centers offer an array of comprehensive courses, with programs designed to equip individuals with cutting-edge skills essential in today’s technology-driven world and also provide participants with industry recognized certifications that enhance their employability and career prospects.

“Through these initiatives, we are not only addressing the immediate needs of the ICT sector but also laying the groundwork for sustained economic growth and innovation in the region,” Uy said.

The DICT regional roadshow underscores their dedication to making their programs accessible to the stakeholders as they aim for citizens to recognize that DICT projects and initiatives are woven into their everyday experiences.

Uy noted the rise of artificial intelligence, which has been “permeating our society and transforming many of our ways of doing things, which is just the tip of the iceberg. We will see even more profound impact of AI.”

“We in the DICT know this and we are at the forefront in training and re-skilling, anticipating all the different game-changing ang disruptive effects of AI, harnessing the potential to enhance our global competitiveness but at the same time being aware of the risks it entails and how we can minimize them and DICT is very actively involved in the formulation of policies worldwide in this area.  

Baguio Rep. Mark Go also said AI is a new technology that gets smarter every day but aside from this, another thing people contend with is data becoming an even more increasingly valued resource worldwide.

With threats to security and information because of many actors looking to capitalize on these which has led to the rise of movements in other countries to protect their citizens’ personal data from abuse, Go said it is important that Filipinos learn the importance of their data as the country continues to be in the midst of various technological advancements.

He stressed the need for the country to be technologically equipped but also knowing the risk that come along with it.

“We will see the phase-out of many jobs that once relied on manual labor. The International Labor Organization warns that 56 percent of employment in Asian countries namely Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam is at a high risk of displacement due to technology in one to two decades from now. The rapid rise of programs only launched in the past year alone continue to evolve and become more intelligent in rapid fashion and everyone – workers, industries, and educators – must catch up. Together we must be able to think how these achievements advancements in technology will affect what we do today and what we can do in order to adopt with this quickly,” Go said, as he expressed his support to the DICT not only in adding more budget for its programs but ensuring it becomes successful in their effort to digitizing the country.

City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the regional roadshow is a testament to the unwavering commitment to engage local communities across the region and linking it to all the boundless opportunities of expanding digital economies offer.

“It is crucial to recognize that the true power of technology lies in its ability to improve the quality of life of every Filipino citizen, not just individually but within our respective communities. The DICT’s vision of Bayang Digital is not merely a concept. It is a call to action, a rallying cry for us to harness the transformative potential of ICT and create a future where no one is left behind,” Magalong said.

Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, represented by David Gabuten, also recognized the role of ICT in achieving the nation’s aspiration as crucial.

“ICT is one of the major drivers of economic development. With digital governance, innovations become better, businesses grow bigger, and more opportunities are created for all Filipinos. It is imperative that we continue to support and expand these initiatives as we ensure no one is left behind,” he said.

In expressing the LGU’s commitment to having more partnerships to work towards digitalization, Diclas also stressed public involvement in government discussions is important, as understanding the concerns and needs of constituents allows them to become more effective partners in digital transformation. – Hanna C. Lacsamana