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    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Message at the Information Technology and Business Process Management Leadership Roundtable via Zoom

    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Message at the Information Technology and Business Process Management Leadership Roundtable via Zoom

    [START 00:03:00]

    VP LENI: Okay, thank you, Jack and thank you, Benedict for the earlier presentation. Thank you also to the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines for the opportunity on– not just to present my plans but I really intended this to be a listening activity. And as much as I am fully aware that the IT and Business– you know IT-BPO industry is a very good opportunity– is a very big opportunity for the Philippines to flourish in.

    I have had the chance to meet several IT-BPO groups. In fact, I was in Cebu, I think two-three months ago, to talk to representatives of the IT-BPO industry with the hope that these listening activities will help shape our policy should we be given the chance to lead the nation. Ako po 'yung assurance na maibibigay ko sa inyo ay 'yung recognition of how important your industry is to the– to our economy. Especially at a time like this when we are just reeling from the pandemic. We have seen how your industry grew exponentially over the last few decades.

    Kanina nagpe-present kayo Jack, saka si Benedict also. It was a very welcome news na kahit despite the pandemic, meron pa ding growth 'yung industry. Gustong sabihin, this is one of the most resilient. We knew that from 2020 to 2021 halos walang growth 'yung lahat. Pero knowing na you have been able to withstand all the difficulties that our country went through, not just our country but the entire globe, talagang no denying the immensity of your contribution to our country's economy. Gaya nga ng sabi niyo kanina, the industry alone create– is credited with creating over 1.4 million? 1.4 million direct jobs and over four million indirect jobs for our countrymen.

    Alam ko na 'yung ating IT-BPM employees are highly sought after and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Gaya ng sabi ko, you are one of the most resilient. We have witnessed this in the past two years and despite the unpredictability that came with the pandemic, your sector ranks among the most agile in pivoting towards a remote working set-up while also maintaining high productivity rates.

    You are also a sector that has always delivered, and it is incumbent upon government to ensure that the policy environment seeks ways to strengthen and empower you so that you can maintain your momentum and solidify your place at the vanguard of our economic recovery.

    'Yung sa akin lang, if you will just allow me to sort of concretize the steps that we have drafted. Kaya drafted kasi of course, the inputs today will also form a very important part of the plans of the policy. Pero what I will lay down to you is a result of the listening events that we have conducted in the past few months.

    'Yung very first, 'yung remote working. 'Yung remote working should really be seen not merely as a stop-gap solution but as an aspect of the better normal that needs to be embraced. Nakita natin during the pandemic na– actually mas productive pa 'yung marami with the current set-up. 'Yung outdated restrictions to remote or digital-first working will be brought into the [laughter] twenty-first century, will encourage alternative and flexible working arrangements and even incentivize if necessary.

    Of course, telecommunications will be among the priorities in infrastructure development– digital infrastructure, will focus on establishing faster, more reliable electricity and internet services that reach even our most far-flung communities. Tinitignan ko 'yung budget for 2021 and 2022 na despite the enormity of the demand, sobrang kaunti 'yung binigay sa DICT. And given the chance, this has to change. Definitely, digital infrastructure will be the cornerstone of the next administration should we be given the opportunity to lead it.

    Expand IT Hubs to our provinces and next-level cities. Ano naman, you have proven yourselves more than capable of doing digital-first and remote only work and stand as the prime example of its advantages: it is safe, it is convenient, compassionate to the employees, to serve as the lifeblood of our enterprises.

    'Yung pangalawa, really government will have to step up to the task of ensuring and protecting the welfare of IT-BPM workers. This means safer and more commuter-friendly transportation systems for workers who need to report on-site. Actually, noong nasa Cebu ako this was a– one of the major topics that were discussed to us. 'Yung kahirapan na because of the graveyard shifts: 'yung security of BPO people, 'yung pangalawa 'yung lack of access to many services because of the schedules, pangatlo 'yung housing also. 'Yung housing noong mga– kasi halimbawa in Cebu 'yung kinukuwento nila most of the IT-BPM people galing sa iba't ibang probinsya near Cebu. And talagang 'yung sakripisyo just to be able to work kailangan mas compassionate 'yung programs, mas 'yung empathy dagdagan ng pamahalaan to provide the most basic of the services.

    It also means the need for improved e-government services and online transactions for workers who serve different time zones. Kasi maraming nagreklamo sa amin when we went to Cebu na marami silang hindi na-aaccess na government programs only because noong panahon na kailangan silang matulog, doon naman accessible 'yung services. It also means better social security nets through– halimbawa, unemployment insurance programs, although tingin ko, limited 'yung pangangailangan dito compared to the other industries dahil nagka-growth pa nga.

    Pero 'yung bottom line really is, your industry is powered by very talented, dedicated Filipinos and one of the roles of government is really to provide the necessary systems and infrastructure so that their talents and their dedication is harnessed to the fullest.

    'Yung third of course, your industry is fast evolving, and you must be empowered to keep pace with its evolution. When I was in Cebu, this was also one of the things that were discussed with me. Kinukuwento nila na parang there seems to be a gap between what the education system is providing– the skills that the education system is providing– vis-a-vis 'yung mga pangangailangan ng mga industry. Kinukuwento nila na even 'yung mga IT students natin ang pinag-aaralan na mga software, hindi naman 'yung ginagamit.

    So, talagang 'yung solusyon nito, you know, future-proofing our workforce through upskilling, re-tooling, training, professional development programs, saka making sure na 'yung educational system natin is responsive to the needs of the industry. We'll have to strengthen linkages between the academe and your industry. Also, reinforce our STEM curriculum with the goal of developing a diverse pool of highly competent and qualified Filipinos: ‘yung agile, analytical, innovative, ready to take on the challenges of your field.

    Kinukuwento nila na paminsan ang daming trabahong available pero 'yung pinakamahirap 'yung paghanap ng tao. And that is sad considering na napakataas ng ating unemployment rate and yet there are jobs available and not enough people having the skills for those jobs. We have witnessed this firsthand. At the height of the pandemic, we launched a program po called Sikap.ph. 'Yung Sikap.ph is really an online jobs matching platform. At one point we had 29,000 jobs available and only 16,000 people were able to apply successfully because most of them did not have the skills that were required for the available jobs.

    And finally, siguro ito 'yung pledge ko naman that I will make to everyone: parating papakinggan. Over the course of the last six years, this has been what we have been doing: talking to as many voices– many people as possible, listening to as many voices as possible. Ito naman, I don't want to call it consultation kasi I think consultation is a very abused term. Mas tinitignan ko siya na 'yun 'yung partnership talaga na 'yung boses mas bahagi siya ng buong sistema. Hindi 'yung pag naiisipan konsultahin saka magkokunsulta. Pero really putting up mechanisms, really putting up systems na 'yung mga pangangailangan ng sektor ay parating hindi lang pinapakinggan pero kabahagi siya ng entire policymaking process.

    I have always been very big on empowerment, and I think listening to your voices will be a very active ingredient in shaping the laws, policies, regulations that govern your sector. Government will bind its strength with yours to push the nation-building agenda forward. You are also very big on public-private partnerships. The Office of the Vice President has survived the past almost six years because of engagements with the private sector. So, it will be strengthened, it will be leveraged especially as regards to digital infrastructure.

    When I was in Congress, I filed a bill called Empowerment Bill requiring all government agencies to have People's Councils. This is actually just a mechanism na sinisiguro na required na 'yung mga stakeholders ng bawat departamento ay merong platform na pinapakinggan sila every step of the way. And hindi lang– hindi superficial 'yung consultation na ginagawa. So, ang hope is that the People's Councils will be the venue where sectors will be represented and tapped to widen pathways of collaboration. And in any and all endeavors we will undertake together you may rest assured of our fairness, our readiness to listen. Lahat ng hinihingi ngayon ng negosyante, level playing field. And I guess, our track record will also speak for itself na in the many years that hindi pa naman masyadong matagal. Pero in the years that I was a public servant, we have always made sure na hindi ito 'yung klase ng pamamalakad na meron lang pinapakinggan na kakaunti but really providing for those mechanisms to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute.

    Ito naman, your momentum has held over so much destruction so, nowhere to go but up. Ano naman ito, there is no doubt about this as you count among your rank some of the smartest, most hardworking, most qualified people. Not just in the country but in the entire world. And para sa akin if government placed its role right: as partner in development, as an intermediary that works with your industry to deliver the necessary foundations of your continued progress, talagang magfo-flourish pa lalo 'yung industry.

    And you know, sino naman makikinabang pag nag-flourish 'yung industry? 'Yung bayan din. 'Yung bansa din naman natin 'yung makikinabang. And so, I am excited to witness what lies in store for all of us. I am excited to work alongside you on a very regular basis. I have so much to learn. Marami po akong hindi alam about your industry. Kung ano 'yung alam ko, 'yung lang 'yung mga nakukuha ko from the many discussions that I have had with many of you. So, ako excited to listen to everyone and learn from all of you. So, maraming salamat. [END 00:14:00]

    Posted in Transcripts on Feb 28, 2022