Sunday, July 21, 2024

PH named vice chair for UN body’s child online protection

The Philippines has achieved a global milestone by securing the vice chairmanship of a major working group within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations (UN) agency for telecommunications and information and communications technology (ICT).

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue has been nominated as vice chair of the Council Working Group (CWG) on Child Online Protection (COP) representing the Asia and Pacific Region (Region E) for the 2023-2026 cycle.

The nomination was approved during the recent ITU closing plenary held last week.

The nomination process began during the ITU Plenipotentiary in Bucharest, Romania, where the Philippines won a seat in the ITU Council 2023 to 2026, comprising 48 countries out of the 193 ITU member nations.

Subsequently, DICT secretary Ivan John Uy appointed Batapa-Sigue as ITU councilor of the Philippines. The approval of CWG nominations occurred recently as part of the decisions made during the recent ITU Council session in Geneva, Switzerland, held from July 9 to 21, 2023.

The CWG on Child Online Protection plays a crucial role in raising awareness and sharing best practices to ensure the safety of children in the digital realm.

The ITU has been actively creating guidelines for the protection of children online, collaborating with various stakeholders, including children, parents, educators, industry players, and policymakers.

The COP initiative, endorsed by global leaders at the ITU High-Level Segment of the Council in 2008, continues to serve as an essential platform to address child online safety issues.

Furthermore, ITU Resolution 179 approved in Dubai in 2018 reaffirmed the significance of the COP initiative, emphasizing the need for continued assistance and support to Member States, especially those in the developing world, in developing and implementing roadmaps for child online protection.

The resolution also highlighted the importance of ITU’s coordination with relevant stakeholders for the success of the COP initiative.

The first meeting of the CWG is scheduled to take place in Geneva from October 9 to 20, 2023, where Batapa-Sigue is expected to contribute her expertise to further the cause of online safety for children on a global scale.

Her appointment as vice chair of this crucial working group showcases the Philippines’ commitment to making a positive impact in the field of telecommunications and ICT and highlights the DICT’s dedication to championing child online protection and safety.

Batapa-Sigue brings a wealth of experience as a lawyer, law professor, resource person, and policymaker specializing in women and children’s rights since 1998.

A pioneer graduate of the University of Saint La Salle (USLS) College of Law in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in 1997, she currently serves as a law professor at the same institution.

With over two decades of experience, she is expected to contribute significantly to the ITU’s targets and deliverables for the COP-CWG.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Batapa-Sigue is known for her advocacy and commitment to social issues concerning women and children.

Her impactful work in driving growth in jobs and investments in the countryside led to her receiving the prestigious The Outstanding Women in Nation Service (TOWNS) award in 2016.

Additionally, she co-founded the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) in 2008, unifying ICT councils across the country under one umbrella organization.

Her leadership also played a vital role in establishing the Bacolod Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT) in 2007, which significantly contributed to Bacolod’s recognition as one of the six Centers of Excellence in ICT Business Process Management and its inclusion in Tholons International Top 100 Cities in the World for ICT locations.

She was also named the Philippine Individual Contributor of the Year during the International ICT Awards in 2014 by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines and the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

Currently, she serves as DICT undersecretary for ICT Industry Development, also overseeing standards, policy and planning, international relations and consumer protection.

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