Solon vows to pursue pro-digitalization bills till end of 18th Congress

Published April 4, 2022, 4:34 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

A trio of pro-digital transformation bills will all be on Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte’s mind once sessions resume in the House of Representatives after the May 9 polls.

(Sergey Zolkin/ Unsplash)

Villafuerte said further digitalization should preoccupy lawmakers in the remaining session weeks of the 18th Congress, more so now since one of the 10 items on the executive’s agenda for economic recovery is to “accelerate digital transformation through legislative measures”.

The Bicol solon’s digitalization proposals are House Bill (HB) Nos.6924 or the Bangko sa Baryo Act; 1248 or the E-governance Law) and 7189 or the Outside Class Learning and Digital Education Act.

“We call on our colleagues in both chambers of the 18th Congress to support EO (Executive Order)166 by giving top priority to these three measures that aim to close the digital divide by transforming the way we transact and do business at the grassroots level and to provide fast and reliable services to our people,” he said.

Villafuerte, who has championed the country’s digital switch even before the pandemic struck two years ago, said the use of technology-driven tools will provide the country with new opportunities for growth and make it inclusive, especially for millions of Filipinos in the countryside.

The Bangko sa Baryo proposal for one, aims to provide last-mile financial connectivity in unbanked communities nationwide through the use of digital tools, he said.

“The swift congressional passage of the proposed Bangko sa Baryo Act will help President Duterte achieve his goal of financial inclusion for all Filipinos, and open new livelihood opportunities in faraway communities either unserved or underserved by the formal banking system,” he said.

Villafuerte’s e-governance measure, meanwhile, seeks to develop, promote, and interlink electronic government services and processes in all government agencies and state-run corporations.

As for the proposed Outside Class Learning and Digital Education Act, this bill 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.

Both HB Nos.6924 and 6927 have already been approved by the House, but remain pending in the Senate; while HB No.7189 is still in the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture.

Through e-governance, Villafuerte wants to establish a contactless, electronic-based system of services in all government offices and state-run corporations. It will do away with paper-based official transactions and physical queueing in government offices in the post-pandemic era.

His digital education bill, on the other hand, aims to make education accessible to all by ensuring flexibility in the use of learning strategies and available tools amid the eventual return of face-to-face classes in schools.

Villafuerte’s proposal also acknowledges the use of available resources other than the Internet, such as television, radio and cable TV, by mandating periodic resources mapping, and the drafting of a digital technology roadmap as a key preparation for the transformation and adjustment of education for the future.

He said the Philippines needs to accelerate its digital shift, especially with the predominance of online transactions and electronic payments, as well as the use of the Internet to access information.