Keynote Address

Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary


Asia Pacific Forum 2017

Public Symposium on

“Integration and Inclusiveness in a Digital Society”

Marco Polo Ortigas, Pasig City

November 23, 2017


Mr. Kazumasa Kusaka, Chairman and CEO of the Japan Economic Forum;

Dr. Roehlano Briones, Senior Research Fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS);

Former presidents of the PIDS;

Assistant Secretary Ma. Hellen De La Vega of the Department of Foreign Affairs

Esteemed participants and panelists;

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

The Philippine Development Plan (or PDP) 2017-2022 states that the Internet of Things envisions a hyper-connected, digitally responsive society. The largest impact is expected to be in healthcare, manufacturing, network industries including banking and financial institutions, and local governments. While it has great potential to support human, societal, and environmental development, several safeguards need to be put in place to ensure data protection and security.

Information and Communications Technology (or ICT) plays an important role in the everyday lives of Filipinos; it is as an effective tool for nation-building. ICT has the power to foster inclusivity, enable security and efficiency, as well as strengthen connections between individuals, communities, and sectors.

According to the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Philippines ranked 71st globally in the 2016 United Nations E-Government Development Index with a 38.81 percent increase in the Online Service Index and 54.67 percent increase in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index.

To create economic opportunities, the government will facilitate the faster and strategic roll-out of ICT infrastructure in order to meet the growing demand for structures and services, particularly in underserved areas.

The 2016 Philippine data from the International Telecommunication Union indicate that 47.8 percent of respondents use the internet while 32 percent of households have internet access at home. According to the 2016 data of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Philippines ranked 89th out of 137 countries worldwide in terms of readiness to support online shopping and other business-to-consumer electronic commerce.

We are confident that we can improve on these figures. In the recent discussion on Digital Economy of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Massive Open Online Courses, on both website and mobile platform, were introduced to strengthen the framework for the digital economy, to capacitate consumers and improve the digital literacy and empowerment of individuals, particularly in the fields of financial literacy, economic empowerment, education, and health.

Moreover, the use of technology to support financial services, also known as Fintech, is seen to bridge the gap between banks and the unbanked and underserved markets. The 2017-2018 Fintech report of Voyager and FINTQ by PLDT shows that majority of borrowers who access FINTQ’s digital platforms are actually from the provinces despite the concentration of financial services in Metro Manila.

This study simply shows that digital technology has the greatest potential in transforming the financial landscape in the Philippines. The growth of the internet and increased mobile penetration increase access to financial institutions especially for those who live in rural areas.

One good example is the collaboration of FINTQ with Camalig Bank in Catanduanes, this is southeast of Metro Manila. Just this year, digital lending was introduced to teachers and personnel of local government units (LGUs) via the online platform Lendr. To date, FINTQ and Camalig Bank were able to disburse a loan amount of at least PhP 15 million to qualified individuals in several towns of Catanduanes through online transactions, eliminating the need to physically appear in the bank.

Fintech revolution reforms the finance world in terms of helping not only the financial & non-financial institutions but, more significantly, customers and the large economy. Fintech services in the Philippines enable traditional banks to bring efficient and affordable financial services to the unbanked and underserved through mobile money, digital lending, regulatory technology, insurance technology, digital payments, micro savings, micro investments, digital remittance, and other mobile-based technologies.

Meanwhile, digital reforms are also being introduced in the health sector. The Department of Health’s vision for e-health strategic and framework plan is to have an ICT-enabled Philippine Health System by 2020. It will increase access to quality health care services, as well as real-time and quality health data and information for evidence-based decision making. To date, the accomplishments of this vision are a) the creation of the Interagency National eHealth Governance Steering Committee and Technical Working Group; b) the creation of various eHealth expert groups and teams, including advisers from the private sector; c) consultations, coordination and facilitation of tactical activities and; d) the joint issuance and operations of agreed eHealth policies, strategies, plans, guidelines, rules and procedures.

In addition, the telehealth and e-health bill have already been drafted and endorsed for inclusion in the list of priority health bills for approval in the 17th Congress. Also worthy to note is the creation of a Joint Administrative Order on the Institutionalization of the Inter-Agency National eHealth Governance Committee of the National eHealth System.

Despite these accomplishments, we continue to face challenges for the successful implementation of these initiatives. Among others, network connection in remote areas remains poor. Many users remain wary of or intimidated by IT systems. And efforts need to be in place to ensure data security and privacy.

That is why we gather here today as partners to discuss possibilities and areas for cooperation to further improve the Philippines and other smilarly situated countries as a digitally competent society.

Now is the perfect time to foster deeper relationships with each other considering the closeness of our countries’ leaders. We assure you that NEDA remains committed to working with you towards realizing our shared goals.

Once again, we thank everyone present here today for the anticipated success of this event.

Good afternoon and mabuhay!