MANILA, Philippines — Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced the identification of “high-potential areas” for transformation into “digital cities” by 2025.
In an online media conference on Tuesday, June 30, DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Caintic said that the launch of the program seeks to encourage growth in the countryside by providing more jobs in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector in five years.
Through a partnership between the DICT, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), and Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC), the program was dubbed as “Digital Cities 2025: A Brighter Future Awaits in the Countryside.”
Rey Untal, president and CEO of IBPAP, identified the 25 cities as Balanga City, Batangas City, Cabanatuan City, Dagupan City, General Santos City, Iligan City, Iriga City, Laguna Cluster (San Pablo, Calamba, and Los Baños), Laoag City, Legazpi City, Malolos City, Metro Cavite (Bacoor City, Imus, and General Trias), Metro Rizal (Taytay, Cainta, Antipolo City), Olongapo City, Puerto Princesa City, Roxas City, San Fernando, La Union, San Fernando City, Pampanga, San Jose Del Monte City, Tacloban City, Tagbilaran City, Tarlac City, Tuguegarao City, Urdaneta City, and Zamboanga City.
According to Untal, the 25 cities will receive tailor-fit interventions aside from institutional, development, and infrastructure developments, marketing, and promotion through the “support of DICT, other government agencies, LGUs, industry leaders, and academic institutions.”
The program, according to Untal, is in accordance with Administrative Order No. 18, series of 2019 (AO-18) or the “Accelerating Rural Progress Through Robust Development of Special Economic Zones in the Countryside,” and Executive Order No. 114 (EO-114) that created the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program —both of which seek to create jobs in the country’s regional areas.
LPC CEO David Leechiu, according to the Philippine News Agency, forsees a surge in the IT-BPM deamand in the country despite the effects of COVID-19 and quarantine restrictions on the economy.
“Philippine IT-BPM will be instrumental in the country’s recovery from this health crisis so we need to be ready for the demand to start gaining momentum. This will be critical in how the world views us as a long-term investment versus our Asean neighbors.”David leechiu, lpc ceo
Caintic also said that the 25 cities will receive “targeted efforts” which includes the improvement of connectivity that would allow businesses in the IT-BPM sector to thrive. “We wanted to zero-in on areas where we can increase jobs,” he said. The official also added that DICT has partnered with telecommunications companies to fast track their expansion and that the agency will be checking the identified areas to assess the broadband and mobile connectivity.
DICT will also promote digital government by providing a myriad of support for the digitalization of national and local government agencies. The agency will also provide digital education for both teachers and students in partnership with other national government agencies that would result in “reskilling and upskilling” Filipino workers into a “digital workforce.”
In order to shape these identified cities and provinces, DICT has committed to providing assistance by strengthening regional clusters and national councils while providing a “safer, protected, and reliable information and communications technology” through cyber-security.