“I think everyone here knows the importance of the Internet, the importance of ICT in our country, it’s a connection to our economic growth, its connection, of course, in supporting our SMEs.
I think the advocacy of pushing for Internet, and then actually the title of this forum says it all, “Ugnayan para sa Kaunlaran.”
If you listen to the speeches of the President, the Secretaries, and some of us in the Senate, we always hear two things – inclusive growth and tuwid na daan. In fact, I think, those two phrases are the two most repeated phrases of this administration.
The tuwid na daan, which is a push for good governance, and of course inclusive growth, which is a push, such that a growth, our economic growth doesn’t just benefit those in Metro Manila or Cebu or Davao, but would benefit the majority of Filipinos.
You look at ICT as the great provider, as the great leader. Earlier we talk about the SMEs, how further developed and supported through the right ICT infrastructure.
When you look at where our country is and when you look at where poverty is, we sometimes look at poverty as lack of access, a lack of access to markets, a lack of access to grocery services.
But more and more, I think it’s also a lack of access to good quality Internet infrastructure. The more we progress as a country, the more the world develops, where it’s developing now.
So before we able to really push for Internet in all areas of the Philippines, I think it goes hand in hand with our push for inclusive growth.
Earlier, Secretary talked about the one store project, where just by putting that supplier all through the net, they were able to access markets. Take note, that probably, less at least cost to them, they didn’t have to put up a store in a mall in Metro Manila, they nearly have to go online, post their products there and immediately, they were able to find the market.
The Internet is truly a great equalizer, and when you talk about that in commerce, it’s probably one of the best platforms for our SMEs now.
I think a lot of SMEs are still looking for cheap capital, but second to cheap capital would probably be that access to markets. That access to markets can be done through to the Internet.
So when we talk about inclusive growth, it’s impossible not to talk about the Internet as well. As we push for inclusive growth, we need to put these, also, as one of the indicators of how we can achieve inclusive growth and earlier, I was whispering to Sec. Montero, maybe it’s time that we see the Internet in our mega plans, the Philippine National Plan, because we do have a Philippine Development Plan.
I was asking, “Sec., mayroon ba riyang tungkol sa Internet?” Sabi niya, so far wala pa. We need to put something specific in the Philippine Development Plan with regard to the Internet.
The second is tuwid na daan. I was reading this article in my phone this morning, and it’s from Forbes.com. It was a foreign journalist talking about the drop of corruption in the Philippines. It cited two things, on why it takes dropping of corruption in the Philippines.
The first he said was, well because, President Aquino, is unlike, the previous presidents, is not willing to play ball when it comes to corruption.
His second reason was, “but maybe even more than that, is the exposure of social media in the Philippines.”
He points two things on why corruption has been going down, one is, as a major policy push from the president and from the secretaries, and two, is because social media has permeated all of our lives.
These days, if you see, a congressman, a senator, a mayor, or someone related to them, you know, driving a fancy car, or doing things which are untoward, or unbecoming of their position, you can rest assure, it will be in Facebook and Twitter in a few minutes.
To be frank, that vigilance, I think, has also stopped corruption. I mean, kung noon nga po ‘di ba, sa mga ibang ahensya, hihingan ka ng pera, lantaran, eh ngayon ilabas mo lang iyong cellphone mo, kinakabahan na iyong gustong humingi sa’yo.
It does make a good point that in our push for tuwid na daan and push for good governance, you know at the end of the day, yes, leadership’s important but it’s also important that the people are involved.
The people are involved should be enabled through ICT. They’re enabled through social media. They’re enabled through technology, to be as vigilant and to be as participative in the tuwid na daan.
So seeing how important it is, for those two standards, I think it’s really time that we make that important sustained push for bearing ICT in the Philippines.
We did improve, in the World Economic Forum Index, we went from 78 to 76. Umakyat naman po tayo from 2013 to 2014, but I think all of us here are looking for the leap. We’re not looking for a two spot increase, we’re looking for a leap that pushes us up in the future.
So recently, we were able to pass the Philippine Competition Act. This has been the longest running bill in Congress. The first time it was filed was at the 8th Congress, which is about 25 years ago. But just a few weeks ago, we were able to pass it.
I just found out that today how the Feldman Gray Commission, which will be the counterpart of the Philippine Competition Commission in the Philippines fined Apple for 415 million dollars for anti-competitive practices.
Maybe, the Philippine Competition Commission can also do that when it is finally created. They will be able to police our markets, outlaws anti-competitive behaviors, cartels and abuse of dominant positions.
Where we are now, 5 years of good economic growth and another 7 to 10 years of high economic growth, perhaps we might be up at edge of being in the middle income in economy already.
Malapit na po tayo and having that, being in that position, being in that demographic suites far from growth can go have a best economy in the ASEAN, being the second best economy in Asia, next to China.
Currently, sabi ko, this Philippine Competition Act, is a long stance act because how can you enter the big leagues, how can you enter the status of being in middle income economy without even having the right competition policy?
It’s a basic foundation for all of the modern and developed economies. Alangan namang tayo po, we will enter that status without this foundation of law.
In the same way, I look at that Internet infrastructure in the same way where any with middle-income status we’re becoming, you know, we already are.
It’s so hard to put more heads, can you imagine, we’re entering this level already and our Internet is the slowest in the ASEAN. It doesn’t make any sense for me.
Improving our Internet infrastructure and pushing for better IT should be our priority.
The only promise I can give is that we’re committed to make sure that the developments and advancement in this industry is something we will not let go of.
Maraming salamat po! Magandang araw po sa inyong lahat!”