Move on and seize the opportunity
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - July 25, 2020 - 12:00am

On July 29, Wednesday, catch our fourth episode of The Open Bar podcast, with our guest, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara. The podcast is hosted by attorneys Jayson Jorvina, Ria Lidia Espina, and Kara Mae Noveda, all good friends of mine and also fellow UP alumni.

Open Bar is a monthly podcast that discusses legal trends, cases, and laws as it tries (not too hard though) to keep members of the legal profession and the general public on top of current issues and developments in the legal field. It’s a public service project of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Eastern Visayas Region, initiated by its governor, Attorney Jorvina, and IBP Cebu president Attorney Espina.

We just had our recording for the fourth episode this week, where we talked with Senator Sonny Angara about the bills he filed in the Senate on digital careers and digital transformation, chiefly in the context of the pandemic. By way of disclosure, I directed this episode as well as the previous three episodes of the podcast. It can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, and Facebook. Just search for the keywords “The Open Bar Podcast”.

Early into this pandemic, I already conditioned myself with the thought that law clients and case work could become scarce due to the community lockdown. As a healthy distraction, I took up some minor house repairs, a little gardening, and yes, this podcast. I also took the extra time to dust off some long-forgotten skills in computer coding and Python programming in relation to data science.

But it didn’t take long before I became occupied again with legal and academic work, though I have intentionally pared down my workload to help me cope mentally with the current crisis. I attended a court hearing via video conference, submitted court pleadings through email, and communicated with clients online.

It helped a lot that banks and financial institutions quickly adjusted to the new normal and upgraded their systems as well. They now even waive transaction fees for bank-to-bank or money remittance center wire transfers. Thus, it became more convenient to receive, spend, and donate money, all without leaving the house.

Needless to say, for us digital natives, the transition to the new normal was relatively smooth. But we must remember that millions out there are struggling to cope with the new normal, especially those who are used to the brick and mortar way of doing things. Many have become unemployed or underemployed.

We must try to help in any way we can, yet at the same time recognize that the world is changing toward the digital platform, and that during this pandemic we are “forced to good,” meaning we are compelled to stay with the hand we’ve been dealt with.

Senator Sonny Angara told us that prior to the pandemic, he has already filed two bills in relation to this: Senate Bill 1469 (National Digital Careers Act) and Senate Bill 1470 (National Digital Transformation Act).

“A lot of small enterprises have no capacity or ability or know-how to go into the digital economy. So we need some of our traditional government agencies like TESDA and the DTI to help them migrate and do a lot of their tasks online,” Angara said. “Medyo nahuli tayo actually. (We actually lagged behind.) We should have taken advantage of it earlier given that we already do a lot of our work and services online with the BPO and KPO industry.”

He added: “We need to set up roadmaps or goals. By first year high school dapat may (computer) coding na tayo. The teachers must be trained for digital skills. Not many teachers are available right now to teach these kinds of digital skills to our children. We have to create that critical mass and then spread it within the educational system. If we don’t do it now, then we are stuck at low level job offerings and not migrate to the higher income and high-tech type of services.”

But Angara stressed that we cannot take the risk of having face-to-face classes yet. “Now we really have to try with the distance learning or hybrid types of learning. Again the challenge here is how about the 40-50% of the population who are not online or are not digitized. So that’s the challenge moving forward,” Angara said. He cited the need for government to invest in digital hardware and pedagogy development.

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