By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Sunday welcomed the signing of Executive Order No. 127 by President Duterte liberalizing access to satellite services which seeks to expand the provision of internet services through the use of satellite technologies in order to provide Filipinos with improved access to internet connectivity.
In a statement, Go said that the signing would open more opportunities for telecommunication companies to provide better internet services and access nationwide.
“Kailangan natin ng reliable at mabilis na internet kung gusto nating mabigyan ng mas magandang serbisyo at oportunidad ang ating mga estudyante, negosyante, manggagawa at iba pang sektor ng lipunan na mas mabilis makabangon mula sa epekto ng COVID-19,” he said.
The President and Senator Go has earlier urged telecom companies to improve their services to help Filipinos cope with the challenges of the new normal.
The EO specifically allows telecom companies, Internet service providers (ISPs) and value-added service (VAS) providers “direct access” to both domestic and international satellite systems in addition to traditional cable-based networks.
This new policy is part of the national government’s ongoing effort to join the ranks of developed economies by taking advantage of the internet’s “transformative impact on e-government and the delivery of basic services, the elimination of red tape, freedom of information, disaster preparedness, public safety, readiness for climate change, education for all, and inclusive growth”, among others.
“Para matulungan ang mga Pilipino na mag-adapt sa panahon ng new normal, we need to re-imagine the role of the internet and communications technology. Ang buong mundo ay nag-evolve dahil sa COVID-19. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para walang Pilipinong maiiwan sa new normal at tungo sa full recovery,” said Go.
EO 127 also grants broadcast service providers direct access to satellite systems subject to the rules, regulations and authorizations of the National Telecommunications Commission.
To implement these changes, the new EO amends EO No. 467 (s. 1998) which outlines the policy guidelines and regulations concerning the operation and use of international satellite telecommunications facilities and services in the country.
It mandates the NTC to update all necessary regulations and expedite administrative processes that enable ISPs and VAS providers to directly access, use, own, and operate facilities for internet access services using satellite technologies.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology, of which the NTC is an attached agency, is directed to issue any and all rules and regulations deemed necessary for implementing the new national policy.
“Pinadali na rin ng gobyerno ang mga proseso at requirements upang matulungan ang mga service providers na mas maisaayos ang serbisyo nila,” Go emphasized.
Go also pointed out that the use of satellite technologies will provide government and society at large an important alternative communication channel, especially during times of emergencies when traditional communication infrastructures are damaged or destroyed.
He also noted that they may be used to provide reliable and secure government communication services in underserved and far-flung areas that lack communication infrastructure as well as in support of government operations, such as national security and emergency response missions.
“The government needs to adopt more efficient, responsive, and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. Dahil sa COVID-19, kinailangan na mag-evolve ng mga transaksyon na normally ay face-to-face. This will effectively make the government more in tune with the changing times,” explained Go.
In July 2020, the Senator filed Senate Bill No. 1738, also known as the E-Governance Act, which seeks to make the delivery of government services and information more quick, efficient, and cost-effective through the use of new and emerging information and communication technologies.
The proposed bill will establish the Integrated Government Network, a digital and electronic platform that will act as the primary means for sharing and communicating data, information, and resources across all of the government. The network will serve as the government’s primary and focal information management tool and communications network.
Go’s proposed measure will also create various digital portals for the delivery of public services, and internal records management information system, and an information database.
By digitalizing government processes, such as citizen services and business transactions, Go said that individuals and businesses will cope better with the physical and mobility limitations that have been put in place to slow the spread of diseases, such as COVID-19.
“It will also ensure that business processes and transactions in the country remain seamless and fully operational despite the challenges presented by outbreaks and pandemics,” he continued.
“Ito ‘yung gusto nating mangyari—ang mabawasan ‘yung red tape at mapabilis ang proseso dahil nahihirapan na ang ating mga kababayan, lalong-lalo na po panahon ng pandemya,” said Go.
“However, in addition to reducing red tape, I am confident e-governance will also help eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, and encourage citizen feedback and participation in governance in the long-term,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)