Marcos bares plans to help bridge digital divide

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. unveiled his administration's plans to ensure that no Filipino will be left behind as the country enters the age of exponential technology adoption.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. (Noel Pabalate)

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Marcos noted that the so-called "Fourth Industrial Revolution" will be characterized by the infusion of technology into almost every facet of a person's life.

In particular, he mentioned breakthrough technologies in artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics, self-driving vehicles, 3D printing, and virtual and augmented reality, among others.

"The scale and the speed at which these innovations are introduced universally into our everyday lives and activities unprecedented in our recorded history," Marcos said Monday, July 25.

"We cannot stand idly by," he added.

The President then put the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to the task, saying it is its mission to identify and utilize these innovations to improve governance.

"It has the daunting task now of transforming our government into an agile bureaucracy that is responsive to the needs of the public, provides good and solid data to ensure informed decision-making, as well as allows secure and seamless access to public services," he said.

President Marcos noted how important it is to digitize the government's voluminous records, which are stored in warehouses and archives.

"Those that are already stored in various inventories of data should be harmonized and shared across departments and agencies," he said.

"Needless to say, these have to be kept in large data centers that are secure yet accessible," he added.

National ID

According to the President, the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or the National ID will play an essential role in the country's digital transformation, enabling citizens to transact with the government seamlessly.

He said they expect 30 million physical IDs and 20 million digital IDs to be distributed to Filipinos by the end of 2022, while the target is to issue 92 million IDs by the middle of next year.

Digital Divide

Meanwhile, President Marcos noted that the digital divide would be more pronounced as the world moves into rapid digitalization.

"The depth and breadth at which these technologies will be transformative in our lives fully expected," he said.

"This will open new opportunities for the creation of wealth but will also likely create inequalities. Hence, universal connectivity will be a vital component in order to ensure that no citizen is left behind," he added.

Marcos said he had instructed the DICT to deploy digital connectivity nationwide. This will be done by implementing the National Broadband Plan, the common tower program, connecting our Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) via our 'Broad Band ng Masa' project.

"All relevant modes of digital transport should be utilized. These may be through a combination of terrestrial or submarine fiber optics, wireless, and even satellite technology," he said.