MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday renewed his push to improve internet connectivity and digital processes in the country, saying government systems must be digitized for the Philippines to move ahead in a post-pandemic world.
“If we are to survive, and even more so if we are to flourish in the post-pandemic economy, we must digitalize… as quickly as possible,” Marcos said in a speech delivered during the Telco Summit 2022 in Pasay City.
“It is the goal of this Administration to build a truly Digital Philippines, which is why we are doubling our efforts
to reach the most remote parts of the country by providing access to mobile cellular services and wi-fi,” he said.
“We also are streamlining the efforts of government in processing and issuance of permits and licenses to accelerate the development of telecommunication [and] internet infrastructure in the country. This I think everyone has realized is a crucial part of our development,” he said.
Marcos underscored that the “digitalization process is going to be a very important part of improving our ease of doing business,” which is why the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has been pushing to simplify the process of building cellular sites and towers across the country.
The Philippines has so far reduced the number of permits for the construction of telecommunications towers to 8 from 13, ARTA Director General Ernesto Perez told the President during the event.
Documentary requirements were slashed to 35 from 86, while processing time is down to 16 days from the previous 241 days, he said.
Meantime, permits for the laying of fiber cables and other related facilities must be processed within 74 days, a far cry from the previous 868-day processing time, according to data from ARTA.
The reduction of red tape in the establishment of internet infrastructure led to the improvement of the Philippines' standing in the Ookla Speedtest Global Index.
As of October 2022, the Philippines’ median mobile download speed of 22.98 Mbps is ranked as the 81st fastest in the world, an improvement from the 93rd ranking in 2021, information from ARTA showed.
The Philippines’ median fixed broadband download speed of 71.70 Mbps is considered as the 54th fastest in the world, better than it’s 71st rank last year, data showed.
Marcos said the Philippines should “work towards having the connectivity and also having the capability… of doing business with the government without having to go to the main offices.”
“They can do it over the internet and that will streamline, that will immediately make it more – make it a quicker, more efficient way of dealing with our citizenry,” the President said.
“The way the landscape changes accelerates faster than ever, compelling us to be even smarter, even bolder, in finding digital solutions to many problems,” he said.
“It is not something that we say we fixed, finished. You cannot, you cannot leave it. You must stay. It is one of those situations that if you are standing still, you’re going backwards.”
The bottlenecks in the processing of permits usually occur at the local government level, but so far local officials have been cooperative, Perez told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
“The LGUs are also responsive like whenever there’s a delay and the applicant says, ‘Ia-ARTA namin kayo,’ the LGU would immediately act,” he said.
“Even one meeting or two with a particular LGU, sinasagot din nila dahil ayaw nilang makasuhan natin sila sa Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.