MANILA — As perennial gaps in the delivery of government services become more evident amid the COVID-19 crisis, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said that it is high time for the government to prioritize the transition of applicable government processes to E-governance with the use of available information and communications technologies.
“May mga proseso sa gobyerno na pwedeng mas maisaayos gamit ang makabagong teknolohiya. Mas nakita po natin ito ngayon dahil sa COVID-19 crisis kung saan karamihan ng ating pang-araw araw na transaksyon ay kinailangang mag-evolve,” Go explained.
Go said that he is set to file a measure providing for the mandate and institutionalization of a plan for the transition of government transactions and processes to e-governance as the COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the necessity for the digital transformation of traditional face-to-face public service delivery.
E-governance is the utilization of information and communications technology to establish and promote a more efficient and cost-effective government, allowing the public to avail of various government services in a more accessible and convenient manner. It also provides the public access to resources and information, and makes government more transparent and accountable to citizens.
According to Go, the current pandemic has demonstrated how e-governance and facilitation of e-services can safeguard the health of many Filipinos and, possibly, their lives.
“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,” Go said.
“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 also noted that long queues and appointments with government agencies, financial institutions and other public offices contribute to the spread of the pandemic. As such, by championing the transition to e-governance, the Senator said that he can help Filipinos to, not only adapt to the ‘new normal’, but also provide them better and more responsive services towards a ‘better normal’.
“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,” stressed Go.
The transition of the government to the digital age is long overdue, according to Go, as other countries have already been implementing measures in this regard.
“In fact, some of our government agencies are already doing it, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. My proposed bill simply institutionalizes it for a more cohesive, whole-of-government approach,” he explained.
Citing the many benefits of the government’s digital transformation, Go said that the shift will allow the government become more efficient and accessible to the Filipinos.
“It will also widen the government’s reach. By making transaction with the government faster, we will reduce red tape. By being transparent, we will eliminate corruption,” Go explained.
Go, then, said that the e-governance bill is in line with the Duterte Administration’s push for a fast, systematic, reliable and compassionate provision of government services for all. Recalling his experience as a long-time aide to President Rodrigo Duterte, Go explained how Davao City eventually became one of the most competitive cities in the country when it introduced various initiatives to fast track the delivery of services through e-governance.
As mayor then, Duterte had observed how time-consuming bureaucratic procedures rendered government agencies inefficient. Davao City was one of the LGUs that applied information technology and other e-governance reforms. This includes allowing businesses to download forms for business registration application or renewal.
In 2020, as President, he issued Administrative Order 23 directing all government agencies and offices to eliminate excessive regulations which discouraged private sector investment and inhibited job creation while placing additional costs for businesses.
“Habang nilalabanan natin ang COVID-19 pandemic, sikapin rin nating maisaayos ang mga kakulangan sa sistema. Our goal is to make the government more prepared and more responsive to the needs of the people,” Go said.
“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 said.
“Through this measure, we will help realize President Duterte’s goal of making life comfortable for all,” he added.