25 PH cities chosen to be next ‘digital cities’ by 2025

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

June 30, 2020, 8:17 pm

MANILA – Some 25 cities in the country will soon have more locally-available jobs in the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) sector after their identification as “high-potential areas” for transformation into “digital cities” by 2025.

In an online media conference on Tuesday, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Assistant Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Caintic announced the launch of the program which seeks to encourage growth in the countryside by providing more jobs in the IT-BPM sector in five years.

Dubbed “Digital Cities 2025: A Brighter Future Awaits in the Countryside,” the program was created through a partnership between the DICT, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), and Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC).

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.

“They will receive the support of DICT, other government agencies, LGUs, industry leaders, and academic institutions,” Untal said.

He said through the support of the government, business, and education sectors, these cities will receive tailor-fit interventions aside from institutional, development, and infrastructure developments, marketing, and promotion.

The program, he said, is supported by the Duterte Administration’s 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.

The reason for the promotion of the IT-BPM industry in these areas, he said, is the industry’s “resilience and enduring role as a major growth driver of the Philippine economy.”

David Leechiu, chief executive officer of LPC, said although the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and its resulting quarantine restrictions will affect business operations in many industries, he foresees a surge in IT-BPM demand in the country.

“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,” Leechiu said.

For the DICT, Caintic said the 25 cities will receive “targeted efforts” including improving connectivity that would allow businesses in the IT-BPM sector to thrive.

“We wanted to zero-in on areas where we can increase jobs. Pupunta kami in these cities to check, kamusta ba ang broadband at mobile connectivity in these areas? (We’ll go to these areas to check, how are the broadband and mobile connectivity in these areas?),” Caintic said.

The improvements in connectivity, he said, can be accomplished by the DICT through partnerships with telecommunications companies that would fast-track their expansion in the identified areas.

He said other interventions that the DICT would help rollout would include promoting a digital government by providing a myriad of support for the digitalization of national and local government agencies.

Another, he said, is the provision of 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.”

The DICT would also help shape digital cities and provinces through various assistance such as strengthening its regional clusters and national councils.

He said the DICT would provide a “safer, protected, and reliable information and communications technology” through cyber-security. (PNA