Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte has called on the Congress to swiftly approve his proposal that aims to develop, promote and interlink electronic government services and processes in all state agencies and corporations to ensure that the Philippines gets ahead of the curve in the “new normal” way of life under a post-coronavirus pandemic era.

According to Villafuerte, establishing an e-government system as outlined under House Bill (HB) No. 1248, “will further improve the ease of doing business—and thus sharpen the country’s global competitiveness as an investment haven—while encouraging people to keep practicing physical distancing in the post-pandemic scenario by letting them transact official business without actually having to go to the various government agencies themselves.” 

“Allowing people to transact with the government online will likewise minimize official corruption.”

HB 1248 serves as a companion bill to HB 6623 or the proposed ‘New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020, which Villafuerte and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano recently filed along with 196 other House members.

HB 6623 aims to provide a “whole-of-society” approach to the “new normal” way of life anchored on strict mandatory safety and physical distancing protocols to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) once containment measures are lifted and economic and social activities resume in Metro Manila and the rest of the country. 

Villafuerte’s proposal under HB 1248 mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to craft and then implement an E-Government Master Plan, which has six major imperatives topped by the integration of the citizen frontline services of all agencies handling business registration, digitization of archives and records management information systems (MIS) across all offices, and adoption of an Internet-based electronic payment facility to enable people and companies to remit payments electronically to agencies.

Allowing people to transact with the government online will likewise minimize official corruption, said the deputy speaker for finance, as it will mean zero contact between applicants and government executives or employees in-charge of processing and issuing official documents. 

HB 1248 aims for the State to develop and promote electronic government services and processes through inter-agency cooperation, as a way to expand opportunities for citizen participation in the government by way of ICT and other new technologies, in the post-pandemic environment. 

Villafuerte said the promotion of electronic transactions across the bureaucracy jibes with his earlier proposal on the fast-track and full implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) project of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as it would be ideal for people to use their would-be National identification cards (IDs) in transacting with government offices. 

The full implementation of both the PhilSys project of PSA and the National Broadband Program (NBP) of DICT are also required under HB 6623.

Villafuerte is a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee monitoring the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which he co-authored to grant special but limited budgetary powers to President Duterte to bankroll the government’s four-pillar COVID-19 response strategy.

The measure aims to prepare and educate Filipinos for life after the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the national government.

The Camarines Sur legislator is also co-chairman of the social amelioration cluster of the Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC) chaired by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and co-chaired by Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

Villafuerte said that in HB 1248, he is proposing the “technical and informational interoperability of the ICT systems of all government offices through the Internet-based E-Government System, to clear the way to the further improvement of the ease of doing business in the country and minimize corruption while at the same time making the Philippines ahead of the curve in the practice of social distancing under the new normal scenario of possible coronavirus outbreaks in the years to come.”

The E-Government Master Plan has six major components, namely:

• An interoperability framework to guide and govern basic technical and informational interoperability of the ICT systems of all government agencies and corporations;

• An Archives and Records Management Information System for all government documents and records. 

This will entail the digitization of paper-based documents and records and the development of systems that will manage the creation, routing, tracking, archiving and disposal of all official documents—while adhering to existing policies, laws and ISO standards;

• An Internet-based Government Online Payment System and gateway that will enable citizens and businesses to remit payments electronically to government agencies. 

This will involve various delivery channels, including debit instructions (Automated Teller Machine or ATM accounts), credit instructions (credit cards) and mobile wallets (short messaging system or SMS);

• A Citizen Frontline Delivery Services that would facilitate business registration-related transactions by integrating all agencies involved in business registration.

Proposed for inclusion are such agencies and firms as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Social Security System (SSS), Home  Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), Philippine Health Insurance Corp.(PhilHealth), Land Transportation Office (LTO), local government units (LGUs) and other offices issuing permits and licenses;

• A Public Financial Management system to harmonize such financial systems in government as taxation, payment systems, accounting and business registries; and

• A Procurement System providing online and real-time services encompassing all procurement processes involving bidding, contract agreements, and payment for services or supplies.

He said the adoption of the six components of the master plan would enhance the access to and delivery of government services to bring about efficient, responsive, ethical, accountable and transparent government service.

Villafuerte said his proposal also covers the  inventory and purchase of hardware and software of all government offices, as well as the use of servers, network connections and data centers in all government offices.

It will also involve, he said, the adoption of security, disaster recovery plans and archiving services and capabilities that are already available as well as future information systems; and the standardization of systems across government agencies to promote interoperability and database management.

This measure aims to prepare and educate Filipinos for life after the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the national government and local government units (LGUs) to contain the spread of COVID-19 through new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments and other public spaces. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *