Business As Usual

Brian Poe-Llamanzares speaks at APAC Congress 2024

Brian Poe-Llamanzares speaks at APAC Congress 2024
In order to address the digital divide, Dr. Brian Poe-Llamanzares said that certain policies are necessary for the growth of the digital economy.

BANGKOK – Dr. Brian Poe-Llamanzares was asked to deliver a keynote speech on addressing the digital divide in the region. He used the growth of the digital economy of the Philippines as a case study, showcasing best practices and effective legislation. Poe-Llamanzares also invited internet service providers and industry leaders present at the APAC Congress to invest in the Philippines

He goes on to explain that the digital divide is still very evident. In June 2023, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) reported that 65% of Filipinos are still not connected to the internet. And yet in 2022, the digital economy contributed P2.08 trillion or a considerable 9.4% of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is projected to contribute about P5 trillion annually by 2030. In his speech, Poe-Llamanzares highlighted the need to increase accessibility to technology and innovation,

“If we can harness the power of digital technology and provide access to residents of the 7,641 islands of this archipelago, especially the most vulnerable sectors, then we can improve our way of life.”

In order to address the digital divide, Poe-Llamanzares said that certain policies are necessary for the growth of the digital economy.

“In 2020, the World Bank released the Philippines Digital Economy Report. According to that study, efforts to enhance digital infrastructure in our country are hindered by low competition and regulatory constraints in the telecommunications market. At that time the report was written, the legal regime limited the percentage of foreign equity in certain industries including telecommunications resulting in the inability to attract foreign investments.” 

Poe-Llamanzares pointed out how Sen. Grace Poe’s amendments to the Public Services Act, which was passed in 2022, address the World Bank report concerns and allowed for the entry of foreign internet service providers (ISP) like Starlink, which now provides internet services in underserved areas like Pag-Asa Island.

In his speech, he said that the 2022 Status of Digital Payments report showed that the share of digital payments in terms of volume has grown substantially to 42.1% in 2022, up from just 1% in 2013. Moreover, in terms of value, the share of digital payments increased from 8% in 2013 to 40.1% in 2022.

Poe-Llamanzares also spent time talking about the Philippine Business Hub, the E-Government Master Plan, and the National Broadband Plan. 

The National Fiber Backbone is a government-owned fiber cable network that is expected to reach about 28,000 kilometers and greatly enhance public infrastructure for internet connectivity. Phase 1, spanning the first 1,245 km, would run from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Roces, Quezon City connecting 14 provinces, including four ecozones and two national government data centers. With four more phases in the pipeline, the DICT hopes it will bolster the Philippine household fixed broadband penetration rate from the current 33% to 65% by 2026. 

Poe-Llamanzares had previously written his Ph.D. dissertation on the National Broadband Plan and submitted his findings to DICT Secretary Ivan Uy back in 2022. He has his Ph.D. in Public Administration. 

To further grow the digital economy, he explained that Senator Grace Poe has also filed the Better Internet Bill to ensure a minimum internet speed throughout the country, and open access in the internet bill, which states that unless ISPs will operate an international cable landing station, ISPs shall not be required to secure a legislative franchise, Provisional Authority, or a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity or CPCN from the NTC in order to build, install,  operate, and render Internet network and Internet access services. 

The ASEAN Foundation held the Digital and Intelligent Asia and Pacific Congress 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand to highlight the growth of the digital economy within the region.

Poe-Llamanzares represented the office of Senator Grace Poe, along with representatives from other senate offices. The Department of Budget Management (DBM) and the DICT were all present at the tech congress.

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