Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his full support for the proposed E-Governance Bill during a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Science and Technology on Monday, May 22.

As one of the authors of the measure, Go highlighted in a manifestation the urgent need to address bureaucratic inefficiency and enhance government services through the use of technology.

“People are spending so much money, time, and energy just to get a simple document, submit an application for a permit, or simply access public information,” noted Go.

“Napakahaba po ng proseso, maubos ang oras mo, hindi lang isang oras, isang linggo, o isang buwan,” he added.

Go said that the COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted this issue, as crucial government services and programs had to be suspended or adjusted, leading to restricted public access to much-needed assistance.

Recognizing the importance of adapting to changing times, Go first introduced the proposed E-Governance Act during the 18th Congress. He acknowledged the valuable lessons learned during the pandemic, saying, “Marami tayo natutunan noon kung paano mag-adapt sa panahon gamit ang teknolohiya na mayroon tayo.”

He also expressed his gratitude to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for prioritizing the bill and mentioning it in his first State of the Nation Address.

The proposed E-Governance Act aims to establish an integrated and interconnected information and resource-sharing and communications network that spans national and local governments. It shall mandate the creation of an internal records management information system, an information database, and digital portals for the delivery of public services.

The bill also advocates for the digitization of paper-based workflows to achieve greater efficiency and transparency in public service delivery. Go acknowledged the role of the Department of Information and Communications Technology in spearheading these efforts.

He then highlighted the significance of digital transformation in government, citing how businesses in the private sector have adapted through e-commerce platforms to improve their services.

“Lalo na sa gobyerno, there’s no better time than now to prioritize the government’s digital transformation. Dapat ang karamihan sa application para sa dokumento na mula sa gobyerno ay pwede na rin gawing online,” he said.

Go added that institutionalizing an E-governance roadmap would help address delays and inconsistencies experienced in obtaining information and services from the government by streamlining these processes.

“Sa isang government website, dapat nandun na lahat ng kailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Nandun na paano mag-apply ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance, birth certificate, business permit,” said Go.

“Parating natatagalan diyan… parating pinapatulog diyan yung mga business permit, at hindi natin maintindihan kung bakit natutulog minsan, merong nakakauna, merong nakaka-overtake. Yun ang dapat pong tingnan ng gobyerno,” he added.

Go also emphasized the importance of providing guidance and support to those who are still unfamiliar with digital and online platforms.

“Alam ninyo, ito na po yung panahon na dapat nating matutunan itong e-governance. Naiba na po ang panahon sa ngayon, at marami na pong natututong gumamit, at marami pa rin pong dapat turuan paano gumamit,” he said.

“Marami pa sa atin ang nangangapa pa po paano gamitin itong digital system sa panahon ngayon,” added Go.

The senator likewise proposed for the government to include a public directory of all government offices with contact numbers and emails to make it easier for citizens to reach out to the government. This would contribute to improving the efficiency of government operations.

“Doing so would bring the government closer to the people, bridge the gap in the delivery of various services, and provide avenues for our people to bring their grievances and concerns to the government. Ilapit po natin ang serbisyo ng gobyerno sa mga tao,” Go emphasized.

“In the end, E-governance will result to better governance, and a government that is more responsive to the needs of our people,” he added.

Furthermore, citing the delays in distributing aid during the pandemic due to the manual processing of information from various agencies, Go stressed the need to harmonize existing database scattered in various government offices to ensure quick and appropriate service provision.

“Importante ring matugunan kung paano ma-harmonize ang impormasyon na mayroon tayo para mabigyan ng mabilis at angkop na serbisyo ang mga tao. Tulad na lang noong panahon ng pandemya kung saan natagalan ang pagbibigay ng ayuda dahil sa mano-manong pagproseso ng database mula iba’t ibang ahensya,” he explained.

“Dapat gamitin natin ang teknolohiya para maisaayos ang serbisyong ibinibigay natin at maibigay kaagad yung tulong sa mga mahihirap,” Go urged.

Concluding his speech, Go expressed his gratitude to his fellow lawmakers for hearing the proposed measure, acknowledging their long-standing advocacy for expediting and improving government services for the Filipino people.

“Lastly, I thank our very able Chairman, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and, of course, Senator Robinhood Padilla, and this Committee for hearing this measure,” he said.

“Alam kong isa po kayo sa matagal nang nagsusulong na mapabilis at mapabuti ang serbisyo ng gobyerno para sa ating mga kababayan,” Go concluded.