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Forum highlights need for FIRe preparation

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THE FOURTH Industrial Revolution (FIRe) is bound to hit more and more sectors in the Philippines, and the challenge now is to prepare them to take advantage of opportunities from this development, speakers said in BusinessWorld’s Industry 4.0 Summit at Shangri-La at the Fort, Taguig City on Monday.

“The world has changed and it will continue to do so in a fast-paced manner… However, this is not yet the overall experience in most parts of the country,” Secretary Gregorio Honasan II of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said in his opening speech. “Our fellow Filipinos in many areas still cannot tap into the wonders of ICT due to the lack of resources and connectivity, thus slowing down our transformation and leapfrogging to a digital society.”

Anthony Oundjian, managing director and senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group, said that while there will always be winners and losers in any revolution, it’s important to stay on the “right side” of the narrative by treating technology as an enabler than a threat.

Close coordination between the private and public sectors is also key in benefiting from FIRe, Jose Ramon G. Albert, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said.

He cited the need for government support by improving support for research and development, both in financial terms and by removing regulatory and anti-competition barriers.

For her part, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares said the government is reviewing laws that pose barriers to FIRe preparations. She specifically mentioned the Ease of Doing Business Law, amendment of the 80-year-old Public Service Act in order to open telecommunications and transport to foreign capital, Freedom of Information bill and Transport Network Vehicle Service bill among legislative moves to create an environment for technological advancements to thrive.




“We can only be ready if you will be able to put the FIRe in the government’s (agenda). With this, we hope that we could create a more vibrant and equitable economy and eradicate intergenerational poverty,” she said.

As FIRe is powered largely by the Internet, Emmanuel Estrada, network strategy head of Globe Telecom, Inc., cited the need for the telcos and the government to form a new National Telecommunications Development Plan, while PLDT, Inc. Vice-President and Head of Enterprise Digital Solutions John R. Gonzales said the government and the private sector should cooperate on an environment that will encourage innovation.

Jeremiah B. Belgica, director general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority, cited the need for the government to solve bureaucratic inefficiencies which could frustrate the benefits of automating government operations.

DICT Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said more infrastructure needs to be built if the country is to maximize FIRe’s opportunities. For instance, he said, “For the past decades, telecommunication services have been a private venture. Almost zero government investment on this. But in this administration, we are going to put in more investments from the government.”

Properly and adequately anticipated, FIRe can be expected to benefit micro, small and medium enterprises; the financial and banking sector; as well as logistics and manufacturing and transportation.

“Industrial Revolution 4.0 is here, but we still have a lot of work to do, including making ‘Digital Philippines’ an experience for every Filipino,” Mr. Honasan said. — Denise A. Valdez

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