‘Data, statistics are like GPS’: DICT chief presses policies vs roadblocks in digitalization push

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2020 01:04 PM

An internet cafe in Manila reopens on September 1, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Roadblocks in data gathering, information and communications technology should be addressed in order for the Philippines to remain on course in its digitalization journey especially during the coronavirus pandemic, an official said Thursday.

Data and statistics are like "GPS" [global positioning systems] that allows the government and policymakers "to get swift information," Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan said.

"The need for policies and programs for digitization has never been as urgent as it is now as we continue to navigate through this new normal, we expect to encounter unfamiliar roads, difficult terms and unexpected customs," Honasan said during the 31st National Statistics Month.

"Nonetheless, consistently guided from data learned from statistics, we can stay on course," he added.

Honasan said the DICT and the Philippine Statistical Research Institute conducted a survey in 2019 called the National ICT Household Survey of NICTHS to assess the country's status in terms ICT usage and access.

Majority of the respondents or 78.7 percent have cell phones, making the use of mobile devices the most readily available means to connect to the internet, the survey showed. 

According to the survey, only 17.7 percent of households surveyed have their own internet access at home, while 2 out of every 10 surveyed relied on communal computers.

Majority or 78.7 percent have cell phones, making the use of mobile devices the most readily available means to connect to the internet, the survey showed.

On the barangay level, 3 out of every 10 barangays surveyed have fiber optic cables installed while only 13 percent have free public Wi-Fi present, it said.

Over 90 percent of the surveyed barangays have cell phone signal, but only about half of those can access 4G (LTE) signal.

The survey was conducted with over 40,000 households before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Honasan said the DICT would continue to play its role in gathering and utilizing data and to continue its digitalization journey to help the country.

The coronavirus pandemic also highlighted the need for the urgent full automation of the country's national statistical system to provide timely data to policy makers to hasten recovery, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said in the same briefing.