Keynote Address of Senator Loren Legarda: Trusted Network Alliance Session

May 22, 2024

Keynote Address of Senator Loren Legarda
Trusted Network Alliance Session
22 May 2024 |Grand Ballroom A, Shangri-La The Fort, 30th Street Corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It is an honor to address you today at a time when the convergence of technology, security, and prosperity has never been more significant. In these transformative times, trust is the foundation upon which we build our digital future. It is in our collective efforts today that we ensure this future is secure, inclusive, and prosperous for all.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of investing in technology became glaringly evident. As we navigated through unprecedented challenges, millions of Filipinos transitioned to a digital environment, eventually finding themselves in the virtual realm for work, education, and connection. This shift underscored an important truth: we can no longer hold off digital transformation. It is inevitable, and it is imperative.

Digital transformation provides us with the opportunity for digital infrastructure to play a role in propelling our Sustainable Development Goals forward. Harnessing digital technologies not only accelerates progress toward our SDGs but also presents opportunities to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Just recently, during the 31st Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, where I chaired the Drafting Committee, one of the resolutions we adopted recognized the urgent need to rethink critical infrastructure to align with the principles of the green and blue economy and natural capital accounting, in response to the challenges posed by climate change, environmental degradation, and the increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters. Critical infrastructures also have to integrate the principles of the green and blue economies into their strategic approaches, with the end view of precipitating sustainable and resilient solutions for economic progress.

Information Technology Sector is considered as one of the 16 identified Critical Infrastructure Sectors by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

As the principal author of the law that established the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in 2016, I have long recognized the pivotal role of technology in our nation’s progress, ensuring that every citizen has access to its benefits, has the opportunity to take full advantage of it, and is protected from digital threats in this rapidly evolving digital environment. A recent report from World Data Lab’s Internet Poverty Index shows that the Philippines ranks 6th out of 42 Asian countries for the highest number of people without internet access. As of early 2023, 16.6% of the population, nearly 19 million Filipinos, were still offline. Additionally, DataReportal’s Digital 2023 report found that 31.30 million Filipinos do not use the internet, with the country’s internet penetration rate at only 73%.

In line with this, I have taken significant steps towards digital inclusivity by supporting the successful installation of Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet, a cutting-edge technology provider that offers fast and accessible internet connectivity, in my home province in Antique.

Internet of Things (IoT) and digital technologies are vital conduits for delivering basic services efficiently. Through interconnected devices, IoT facilitates real-time data analysis, enhancing essential services like healthcare, education, and transportation. Remote patient monitoring in healthcare, online learning platforms in education, and smart traffic management in transportation are just a few examples of how IoT and digital technologies improve accessibility and quality of basic services.

However one of the main challenges is a widening digital divide. I have been contemplating whether this is a human right, inherent and inalienable, and therefore, has to be affordable. Democratizing cyberspace democratizes society. While it creates economic opportunities, we have also seen a rise of scams that have targeted some of our most vulnerable sectors.

One key component of this inclusivity is the enhancement of cybersecurity and infrastructure security. For enterprises in critical sectors— energy, healthcare, finance, transportation, food, and agriculture—which are pillars of our society and economy, scams, interference, and hacks can disrupt these new entrepreneurs. Their protection and the protection of the infrastructure they depend on are paramount to our security and resilience.

I am proud to share that we offered free online cybersecurity and digital marketing courses to Senate employees with the help of Google Philippines and Coursera. It is important to keep updated so that we can craft policies to address issues that arise in this fast-changing digital ecosystem.

The Indo-Pacific region is a vibrant mosaic of cultures, economies, and aspirations. By bridging the digital divide and fostering trusted networks, we lay the foundation for a resilient and prosperous future, leaving no one behind.

I join you in embracing this movement with a sense of urgency and purpose.

Embrace the power of DIGITAL. D for Digital. I for Infrastructure and G for Green. I for Innovation and T for Technologies. A for Advancing and L for Long-term sustainability and environmental protection. Let us embrace Digital Infrastructure for Green Innovation and Technologies Advancing Long-Term Sustainability and Environmental Protection.

Ultimately, let our digital future be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Thank you at isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat!