To bolster the country’s efforts in developing and implementing e-government services, Senator Sonny Angara said on Sunday local government units (LGUs) should take the lead in digital transformation for the public sector.

Angara bill seeks to assist LGUs in shifting to digital

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To bolster the country’s efforts in developing and implementing e-government services, Senator Sonny Angara said on Sunday local government units (LGUs) should take the lead in digital transformation for the public sector.

Angara noted how the shift to digital or online services has accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and “government cannot afford to be left behind.”

“One need only to look into how more Filipinos now regularly use their mobile phones and computers to shop, do their groceries, and even transact with their banks. Our government processes and services should follow suit,” Angara said.

According to the Department of Interior and Local Government, only 30 percent of LGUs have taken steps to digitize their processes.

In a September 2020 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, researchers pointed out that limited access to computers, lack of standardization, poor infrastructure, and other related issues are hindering the development and implementation of e-government services throughout the country.

While many LGUs have opted to maintain the status quo and continue with face-to-face transactions with their constituents, Angara said the absence of digital services poses some real problems such as what was experienced in the distribution of cash aid during the enhanced community quarantine period.

“We witnessed how thousands of people had to go out of their homes and line up at designated areas in their respective LGUs to apply and receive their cash assistance. This was not only a labor-intensive and tedious process, but also created significant health risks on both the recipients and the government workers,” Angara said.

To facilitate the transition of LGUs to digital services, Angara has filed Senate Bill 1943 or the Local Information and Communications Technology Officer (ICTO) Act, which seeks to create a new position of ICTO in all provinces, cities and municipalities across the country.

This will entail an amendment to Sections 443 (a), 454 (a), and 463 (a) of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, which deal with the officials of the municipal, city and provincial governments.

ICTOs will manage the following: formulating and executing digitization plans for processes and public documents in their respective LGUs; develop, maintain, and supervise all other information and communications technology programs and services of the LGU (including partnerships with the private sector); and collate and disseminate information regarding ICT and the services of the local government to the public.

Aside from being Filipino citizens of good moral character, ICTOs will be required to have degrees from recognized colleges and universities, in information and communications technology, computer science, computer engineering, data science, electronics and communication engineering, or any other course that will be directly relevant to the job.

Incoming ICTOs should also have three to five years of experience, depending on where they will be assigned.

“Digital transformation, I believe, requires that we rebuild our organizational structures, work processes, and cultural mindsets,” Angara said.

“Digital services are not add-ons, but rather, they are how our work processes are evolving to fit into the new world. Now is the best time to improve our digital framework for both our government and business sectors, as last year’s challenges have given us an opportunity to build anew,” he said.

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

House panel OKs 10-year extension requiring banks to loan funds to MSMEs

By Billy Begas

The House Committees on Appropriation and on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development have approved the measure seeking to extend for 10 years the law mandating banks to allocate 10 percent of its loanable funds to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The still unnumbered measure, authored by Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva and CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera seeks to amend the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises (Republic Act 6577).

Under the law, all lending institutions are mandated to set aside at least eight percent for Micro and Small Enterprises and at least two percent for Medium Enterprises their total loan portfolio. The provision lapsed in 2018.

Villanueva said based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as of March 2019, banks allocate a meager 2.72 percent of their loan portfolio to micro and small enterprises and 4.19 percent to medium enterprises.

“We owe our MSME sector a great deal. This bill is for them; karapat-dapat sila. It is only apt that we invest in them by ensuring availability of access to credit and government assistance and programs. They are our economy’s unsung heroes, comprising 99% of firms in our economy,” said Villanueva.

Other significant provisions of the proposals are as follows:

– National Government shall allocate at least 10% of its procurement needs to eligible MSMEs;

– Entitlement of registered MSMEs to 20% discount on shipping, delivery fees, mailing, freight, and other similar services for products and raw materials provided by either public or private

– 20% of total rentable spaces of private malls allocated for MSMEs at a 20% discount on rental payment;

-At least one percent of the total space available in all government buildings, structures, and open areas allotted for selling area of MSMEs

-At least 0.5 percent for every 5,000 square meters in private malls, supermarkets, shopping centers, commercial selling establishments, structures, or areas allotted for selling area to MSME stores

Guevarra: DOJ prepared to probe assault vs NUPL lawyer

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday (March 4) assured that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is prepared to investigate the attack against lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, one of the legal counsels of the petitions seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Law before the Supreme Court (SC).

“If he has good reason to believe that it’s related to his advocacies, I will refer the matter to the AO (Administrative Order) 35 task force for appropriate action,” the secretary said.

DOJ’s AO 35 Task Force investigates extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations to the rights to life, liberty and security of persons.

At the moment, Guevarra said Guillen has yet to reach out to the DOJ to seek an investigation.

“We’ll wait for Atty. Guillen to make a statement about the incident,” Guevarra said.

Guillen, who is also the assistant vice president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) Visayas sustained stab wounds from a screw driver after being assaulted by unidentified men in Iloilo City on Wednesday (March 3).



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