Villafuerte asks Congress to pass 3 bills on boosting PH digital economy

Published May 25, 2021, 1:40 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte on Tuesday, May 25, called on the Congress to pass the proposals designed to accelerate the Philippines’ digitalization switch amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Camaarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte

Villafuerte specifically mentioned his three legislative proposals on institutionalizing the Bangko sa Baryo, e-governance and digital education. He stressed that these measures are in support of President Duterte’s goal of transforming the country into a key player in the global digital economy.

He said House Bill (HB) 6924, or the Bangko sa Baryo proposal, aims to provide last-mile financial connectivity in unbanked communities nationwide through the use of digital tools. It was already approved by the House of Representatives in August last year, but remains pending in the Senate.

The measure, he said, will achieve the administration’s goal financial inclusion for all Filipinos, and open new livelihood opportunities in communities either unserved or underserved by the formal banking system.

His HB 1248, meanwhile, seeks to develop, promote and interlink electronic government services and processes in all government agencies and state-run corporations. The e-governance bill was consolidated under HB 6927, was also approved by the House last year but is also pending in the Senate.

Villafuerte’s proposed “Outside Class Learning and Digital Education Act,” or HB 7189, recognizes the need to develop the Philippines’ basic education curriculum in order to fully integrate learning beyond the confines of the classroom, such as distance learning and other alternative modes of education. This has remained in the House committee on basic education and culture.

The congressman said he has long been pushing the country’s digital transformation to ensure that Filipinos stay globally competitive amid the increasing dominance of e-commerce and online official transactions.

He was referring to a speech by President Duterte at the recent virtual Nikkei Future of Asia Conference, where the Chief Executive said that the “Philippines wants to be an active participant in the global digital economy” and will “invite more investments to expand e-commerce and facilitate new modes of interaction and exchange in a safe and secure cyberspace.”

He acknowledged, though, that his proposed digitalization measures would only be successful if most Filipinos are familiar with digital tools, as he quoted reports citing a recent World Bank study showing that 60 percent of Philippine households lack Internet access.

“This trio of digitalization measures will work in tandem in helping achieve President Duterte’s goal of rebuilding our pandemic-hit economy by making the Philippines a key player in the global digital marketplace,” Villafuerte said.