Skip to main content

Lawmakers Webinar Looks at Digital Technology’s Role in the New Normal

Date Published
February 17, 2022

A webinar on the fourth industrial revolution was organized by the Philippines’ House Special Committee on the East ASEAN Growth Area. Photo credit: Press and Public Affairs Bureau, House of Representatives, Philippines.

A recent webinar organized by the Philippines’ House Special Committee on the East ASEAN Growth Area discussed how technologies in the fourth industrial revolution can make a difference in a post-pandemic world.

The event was held on 11 February in cooperation with the country’s Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-MIMAROPA region and the BIMP-EAGA Socio-Cultural and Education (SCE) Human Resource Development (HRD) Working Group. It featured resource speakers from the subregion who shared their views on the role of technology in transforming society, particularly in BIMP-EAGA focus areas.

In his opening remarks, Representative Sabiniano Canama (Party-list, COOP-NATCCO), chair of the special committee, said World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab signaled in 2016 the emergence of a new era characterized by a fusion of physical, digital, and biological worlds with the heavy use of technology and data. He cited that the key emerging digital technologies in the fourth Industrial ievolution include artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and quantum computing.

COVID-19 and the shift to digital 

The Philippines is already experiencing the impact of these technologies in everyday life, Canama noted. The use of digital payment increased during the COVID-19 community quarantines. Digital tools were created to aid contact tracing and have helped in the early management of COVID-19 cases.

He also mentioned the use of 5G technology to detect flood risk and ease traffic volume.

Canama said there is a need to examine how these technological advances can benefit the people and for enabling policies to support national and subregional goals.

Meanwhile, Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development Feliciano Calora, Jr., who represented the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) Executive Director Reynaldo Ebora, talked about Agriculture 4.0, which refers to the next big trends in agriculture using technological breakthroughs and innovations. He said this has led to "smarter, greener, and science and technology-based solutions."

Jonathan Victor Diaz, product manager of Internet of Things Philippines, Inc., said IoT applications have smart sensors for air pollution monitoring, enhancing agriculture quality, fish farm monitoring, flood detection, water quality monitoring, explosive and hazardous gases monitoring, foot/car traffic detection, and smart lighting, among others.

Sherwin Pelayo, executive director of Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP), spoke about ways to support the growth of data analytics in the country. He gave several recommendations, which include standardizing the definition of analytics, producing more teachers in the field, spinning off analytics as a distinct sector from Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), and embedding data and AI ethics into policies and practices.

Also present in the forum were Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles (First District, South Cotabato); Rep. Lawrence "Law" Fortun (First District, Agusan del Norte); Carl Moosom, BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) Sabah Chapter chairman; Joselito Alisuag, regional director of CHED-MIMAROPA and head of the BIMP-EAGA HRD Working Group; Ninaliza Escorial, deputy executive director of DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD); Robert Dizon, executive director of DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC); David Hardoon, chief data and innovation officer of Aboitiz Group; Lorenzo Macapili, Region XI director of TESDA; Hamdoni Pangandaman, chairman of the College of Health Services of the Mindanao State University; Emmanuel Lazaro Estrada, a senior vice-president of Globe Telecoms, Inc.; and Art Catarata of the Committee on EAGA, among others. The forum was hosted by Committee Secretary Alphie Mejia-Galaites.

Initiatives in BIMP-EAGA

Before the pandemic, BIMP-EAGA has initiated projects that can help the subregion get ready for the fourth industrial revolution. These include the BIMP-EAGA Submarine and Terrestrial (B.E.S.T) Cable Project, the ICT CEO Forum, and Startuphub@BIMP-EAGA, which are led by the private sector.

The subregion is also helping micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises adopt digital technologies. It recognizes e-commerce as a means of promoting inclusive growth by integrating small businesses into global value chains.

At last year's 24th BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting and 14th Summit, leaders in the subregion said digital transformation is an important part of pandemic recovery strategy. BIMP-EAGA will be guided by the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap: An ASEAN Digital Transformation Agenda to Accelerate ASEAN’s Economic Recovery and Digital Economy Integration to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution.