Early this year, we embarked on an initiative with the Philippines Department of ICT (DICT) to co-develop the country’s National ICT Ecosystem Framework (NIEF) in a multistakeholder fashion. The NIEF, which succeeds the Philippine Digital Strategy, will guide the course of ICT use and development, as well as the priority areas for government, until 2022.
Our collaboration builds upon the success of the Philippine Chapter’s work with key stakeholders to advance open Internet development in the country, particularly in the policy sphere, and DICT’s sustained drive to expand avenues for participation in its policy formulation. Just last year, DICT and the Chapter, together with the Foundation for Media Alternatives, spearheaded the first Philippine Internet Governance Colloquium, which has been scaled up to a countrywide roadshow this year to help address pertinent Internet issues in different localities.
Having formalized our partnership in a memorandum of understanding, signed in July by DICT’s Secretary, Eliseo M. Rio, and the Internet Society’s Regional Bureau Director for Asia-Pacific, Rajnesh D. Singh, we pledged to support the DICT in embedding the multistakeholder approach not only in the framework’s development but in its implementation. Our engagement was complemented by an Internet Governance training workshop to broaden understanding among civil servants of the principles that underpin the architecture and continued evolution of the Internet.
The DICT has since conducted six focus group discussions in the areas of participatory e-governance; industry and countryside development; user protection and information security; sustainable ICT environment; resource sharing and capacity building; and improved public links. It has organized several writeshops and, with our support, is in the process of conducting public consultations in each of the three major island groups, in addition to the capital, Metro Manila, to ensure that the NIEF fully reflects the needs and concerns of the whole archipelago.
The first one, held last week in the burgeoning tech city of Iloilo had over 110 participants from key sectors in local government, industry, academia, civil society, and the technical community providing valuable insights on the progress of ICT development in rural areas and secondary cities in the Visayas region.
Three more will be held this month, in Cagayan de Oro for the Mindanao region; Bulacan for Luzon; and in Quezon City for the Metro Manila area. Together with DICT, we have also launched a public survey, both in Filipino, the national language, and in English, to further solicit input from citizens on the ICT issues that affect their day-to-day lives.
Through DICT’s commitment to putting the multistakeholder model into action, the Philippines joins a growing number of countries around the world demonstrating that making sound decisions in a rapidly evolving, globalized yet decentralized digital landscape begins with policymaking processes that are open, inclusive, and accessible to everyone in the ecosystem.