Bangsamoro government also eyes wider digitalization


DAVAO CITY—The Bangsamoro Region is not going to lag behind in digital connectivity.

With lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional government has instructed all its agencies to explore digitalization to its hilt.

Last week, it convened information technology (IT) enthusiasts and information officers from different ministries, agencies, and offices of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) to formulate “responsive” policy papers.

These papers would be sent to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim Parliament of the region, to legislate digital connectivity.

Based on the policy research conducted by the private group, Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), it said “digital connectivity is not just limited to Internet connectivity but also involves ‘physical’ way of connecting people through transactions or fast-tracking the transfer of goods and services through connectivity.”

Dr. Norodin Salam, IBS consultant, said “generally, the challenge on connectivity are adoption of a comprehensive and strategic approach that will lead coordination, radio frequencies that enable mobile connectivity, addressing gaps between needed and actual financing investments.”

She said the elements of digital connectivity are digital communication, Internet, and digital economy.

The research findings and recommendations would be sent to the BTA for its legislation.

The IBS and the Bangsamoro Information and Technology and Communications Office (Bicto) led the roundtable discussion during last week’s gathering of Barmm agencies. The Asia Foundation (TAF) provided support to the program.

Jonathan Mantikayan, executive director of Bicto, said the studies and the result of the roundtable discussion last week may be converted into a policy recommendation. Currently, the Bicto was formulating the creation of the Bangsamoro e-Government Master Plan (BEGMP) to serve as the blueprint “for a harmonized government information system in the region.”

“We are going to complete the formulation of BEGMP within the transition period, but deliverables should be under way within the  three-year bracket,” Mantikayan said.

Among the considerations was the geographical feature of the region, of which the BEGMP would identify “the strategic and applicable methods to improve the connectivity in Barmm mainland and islands such as installation of a cell tower, internet satellite, and through fiber optic cable [land] or submarine cable [sea],” said Ralph Sinsuat, Bicto acting chief of ICT Infrastructure and Services Division.

“We will identify the best practices applicable based on the research and consultation. Either, we will build infrastructure, otherwise, if not applicable, then we would build towers or supply fiber optics through our local government units,” Sinsuat said.

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