DICT: 83% of Pinoys are internet users, but…

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
DICT: 83% of Pinoys are internet users, but�
LRT passengers browse through their cellphones while commuting in Manila on March 13, 2023.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Eighty-three percent of Filipinos are users of the internet – but many of them don’t use it for learning or tap its potential to facilitate employment or grow business, a ranking official of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said yesterday.

“The Philippines is already – I think, in five or six successive surveys, global surveys – first in terms of use of internet. The world average is only around six hours (of internet use daily). In the Philippines, we have more than 10 hours exposure,” DICT Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue told the weekly Saturday News Forum.

“The global average use of internet for social media is two to three hours only. But in the Philippines, it is four to five hours, it is double,” Sigue pointed out.

She said connectivity is “neutral” and it depends on how a person makes use of it.

“There are many countries with strong internet, and many users of the internet. But they use it for productive means, for learning, for employment, for building new enterprises, for government transactions,” she said.

“That is why it is important that when we say digital divide, it is not only about connectivity. The digital divide is also caused by digital gap in terms of skills. We need to really emphasize on digital skilling, especially in the countryside,” Sigue stressed.

She lamented that many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) cannot maximize productivity because they don’t use or benefit from the digital payment system.

“There are many scams in digital payments, but these are small cases which we need to really regulate and protect. But overall, digital payments make our MSMEs more global, more competitive,” Sigue said.

She also maintained that based on statistics, the new generation – specifically the so-called Gen-Z aged 18 to 24 years old – now rarely use the web or search engines to learn helpful information.

“They are more on social media. They buy there, study there and they are networking (through social media). When you say social media, it’s not only Facebook – there are so many social media platforms – from Instagram, TikTok,” Sigue explained.

 “So anyway, the data now is – each of the almost 99 percent of Filipinos in the internet has actually one social media platform. So, when you are in internet, you have one social media platform. What I’m saying is we need to understand that even government agencies need to go to social media to provide access to information,” she said.

She stressed the DICT is vigorously pushing for ways to improve internet connection in the country.

She also revealed that the DICT has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Justice to strengthen the implementation of the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) law.

“The abuses in terms of online use, they come in all forms. On a personal note, I have been a lawyer for 25 years and I specialized in human trafficking cases, women and rape cases and many incidence of sexual abuse that are being done online,” Sigue said.

Even parents, she said, are selling their children online to sex predators.

“So, we need to really work with civil society. We have many women’s organizations now,” she said, adding that law enforcement agencies are also briefed on how to prosecute cases of online abuse of children.

“The DICT will always be there, provide technical support. I’m also happy to share with you, in the international level we are now positioning to really lead in the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) for child online protection,” she said.

“That is why we are coordinating and asking the help of the DSWD because we are handling online and technical side. But the legal and social is with the other departments,” she added. 

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