Bill filed in Senate mandating online gov’t services

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Sen. Grace Poe has filed Senate Bill 1683 or the proposed E-Government Act of 2020, which seeks to enable Filipinos to file and receive personal claims or loans and business-related requirements via an online government system.

Sen. Grace Poe

“It is only proper to be assured of the transparency and efficiency of a government that is just a click away from its citizens,” said Poe, adding that with services of agencies accessible from one’s own home, senior citizens and pregnant women, for example, will no longer have to endure bureaucratic layers for their needs.

At the same time, Poe acknowledged that the Philippines still needs to improve its connectivity infrastructure to be able to carry out this mandate.

“Now is the best time to ramp up initiatives to give Filipinos fast and reliable Internet connection to truly enable them to shift to online transactions with national agencies and local government units,” stressed Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.

Under Poe’s bill, interoperability or the capacity of government altogether to operate online in a standardized manner will be implemented.

“The government should be able to address queries and concerns interactively through capable online staff supporting an extensive, up-to-date list of FAQs (frequently asked questions and answers),” Poe said.

In order to further streamline permits and licenses, all business registration-related transactions with various government agencies will be integrated. The bill also aims to establish real-time service of the procurement process online involving bidding and contract agreements.

To ensure an efficient financial system, all government agencies will be required to reconcile their payment system in one database. To safeguard the public from data breaches, the bill mandates essential security measures such as protection of computer networks against unauthorized usage and encryption of personal data.

“The call for digital transformation in delivering service is more urgent now in the time of pandemic — when mobility is hampered, physical interactions are minimized, and having access to government services in the safety of our homes is more crucial than ever,” she said.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology will take the lead in ensuring an up-to-date and efficient e-government master plan that regularly adjusts to needed changes.

“Our people expect the government now more than ever to look after them with concern and compassion, having exhausted all their resources and strength trying to cope with this pandemic,” Poe said.

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