(From left) BusinessWorld editor-in-chief Roby Alampay, Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators chairman Enrico delos Reyes, Sen. Grace Poe and Philstar Media Group president and CEO Miguel Belmonte.
Photos by Bernardo Batuigas
Grace calls for another ‘revolution’
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2019 - 12:00am

Knowledge is not just power, it is people power.”

Thus stressed Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate’s committee on public services, as she expressed full support for arming Filipinos as they faced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0.

“Democracy works when we have an informed citizenry who can participate meaningfully in policy and decision-making,” she said at a summit organized by BusinessWorld, focusing on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. BusinessWorld is part of the Philstar Media Group.

She even called for inciting the government “to be the soldiers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” She said more investments should be made in information technology.

Philstar Media Group president and CEO Miguel Belmonte, for his part, said that just like the three that preceded it, “Industry 4.0 is expected to significantly change the way we live, work and play with the fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), quantum computing, and other technologies.”

(From left) Roby Alampay, Enrico delos Reyes, Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio Honasan and Miguel Belmonte.

As someone not adept with gadgets except my iPhone, I attended the summit wanting to now how a mother of a millennial like myself can be an information “revolutionary” as well. This bloodless, but merciless (you lag behind and you’re out of the game) revolution is changing lives in every little way with landmark results.

My former student Grace (she was my student when she was at the Assumption High School) was one of the keynote speakers, and her enlightening speech made the summit less intimidating to me. This whole-day event gathered the top executives of the biggest companies from different industries, as well as government leaders and regulators, who discussed how the Philippines and businesses can prepare and win in the impending Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“What distinguishes the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that innovations are unfolding at breakneck speed,” said Poe.

“According to Speedtest Global Index, despite improvements, average mobile and fixed-line internet speeds in the Philippines fall below the global average. In terms of mobile internet speed, the Philippines ranks 103rd among 139 surveyed countries. The country’s average mobile internet download speed of 15.06 Megabits per second was far below the global average of 26.12 mbps — slower than that of war-torn Syria’s,” she pointed out.

(From left) DICT Undersecretary for operations Eliseo Rio Jr., ADB advisor and chief of digital technology for development Thomas Abell, ARTA director general lawyer Jeremiah Belgica, Odiongan, Romblon Mayor Trina Firmalo-Fabic, PCTO director Renato Garcia and BusinessWorld’s Santiago Arnaiz.
Photos by Bernardo Batuigas

“I believe that Congress should not be merely reactive. Transformative leaders must be bold, and capable of thinking out of the box,” Poe urged.

A mother of three, Poe said, “rather than curtail use of the internet, we should encourage it. Lies and ignorance should be fought with more information.”

“A lot of us complain of poor signals, a lot of us complain that our internet speed is low or our cellular service is bad. But the reality is we lack cell towers compared to other countries in Asia. And the reason for this is that to erect one cell tower alone, sometimes we need 18 signatures, 18 permits from different government agencies. That slows down the process but with this anti-red tape act, we are reducing the time to process these permits to seven days. Unless, of course, there’s a problem.”

“But speed is something that government sorely lacks.  Government moves at a glacial pace, trying to catch up with technological breakthroughs,” she admitted.

Among the pieces of legislation she co-authored is the The Ease of Doing Business law, which aims to cut the red tape that plagues those who go into business.

(From left) Philippine Institute for Development Studies senior research fellow Dr. Jose Ramon Albert, Enrico delos Reyes, the author and Philstar Media Group EVP Lucien Dy Tioco.

“Under the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Delivery of Service Act, the DICT, along with the Anti-Red Tape Authority, shall ensure that the processing of licenses, clearances, and permits for the installation and operation of telecommunication towers, facilities, services, and equipment shall be shortened to seven working days,” she stressed.

Otherwise, “If the concerned agency fails to approve or disapprove an application for a permit within the prescribed processing time, the said application shall be deemed approved. It gives these agencies an incentive to work faster.”

She concluded with an appeal. “We need you to incite us in the government to be the soldiers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We can only be ready, if you will be able to put the fire in the government’s belly.

“With this, it is hoped that we can create a more vibrant, sustainable, and equitable economy and finally be able to eradicate intergenerational poverty.”

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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