Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday assured foreign chambers that the Senate is taking seriously their concern on the boosting of internet connectivity in the country, saying the quality of digital infrastructure is the cornerstone to economic development and will consequently improve the general welfare of the Filipino people.
“We understand the importance of this bill and assure the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) and the Filipino people that the Senate is taking it seriously,” Cayetano said on January 20, 2023 in reaction to the group’s call for the Senate to take action on the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act upon the resumption of session next week.
The independent senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that “we can no longer afford to be in the dark ages when it comes to the internet and its accessibility to each and every Filipino.”
“This is why I have also personally taken it upon myself to push similar measures that will promote the availability of the internet among our kababayans,” he said.
Cayetano is a proponent of two bills pertaining to the advancement and use of digital technology in the country, namely the Smart Philippines Act and the Mobile Application Para sa Pilipino Act (Mobile A.P.P.).
The Smart Philippines Act (Senate Bill No. 298) is aimed at ensuring accessible and affordable internet for all Filipinos by establishing a council, to be named Smart Philippines, that is tasked to create a five-year strategic action plan to modernize the digital infrastructure, health, transportation, education, finance, and urban development of cities and municipalities, on the road to being a smart country.
The Mobile A.P.P. Act (Senate Bill No. 67), for its part, aims to develop and establish a government mobile app that would be accessible to all citizens and should be interoperable among government agencies, offices, and units.
Cayetano said it is high time the government maximizes technology for the speedy distribution of financial help to beneficiaries of existing social protection programs such as Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantage/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
“With the digital age and with the cellphone, dapat (it should be the case that) you could do almost everything when it comes to government transactions sa cellphone mo (using your phone),” he said.
Cayetano said all these bills are important and will be given proper attention by the Senate.