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Saturday, November 27, 2021
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Batapa-Sigue: On OFWs 2.0

THE Philippines today is among the top five countries in the world with the fastest-growing digital freelancing industry. That was my biggest takeaway from day one of the Philippine Online Freelancing Conference last November 11 via Zoom.

One of the biggest supporters of digital jobs in the Philippines, Senator Sonny Angara, who gave the keynote message during the conference, pointed out how very dynamic this segment of our economy is, which consists of our new breed of OFWs or Online Filipino Workers. The Philippines is very fortunate to see how freelancers across the nation helped in keeping the national economy afloat especially during this period of pandemic.

Angara congratulated the Filipino Online Professionals Service Cooperative (FOPSCo) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) through the ICT Industry Development Bureau (IIDB) for staging the conference. He thanked the freelancers for their contribution to building the image of the Philippines as a nation with world-class digital workers.

I would like to congratulate DICT IIDB Director Emmy Lou Delfin, who hails from Northern Samar, and therefore also a countryside digital advocate for leading this program for DICT. I also wish the new officers of FOPSCo, led by president Rochefel Rivera, for their leadership and vision of consolidating all the freelancers’ communities around the country today. More information about the organization is here in fopsco.ph.

The theme “Strengthening the Online Professionals Community in the New Normal” was very timely especially for one of the most resilient segments in the country today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For several years, I have witnessed how Senator Sonny has supported projects of the DICT in reaching out to digital sectors especially in the countryside to deliver various training, onboarding and development programs to support rural impact sourcing as well as online freelancing.

Currently, he is the author of the Philippine Digital Transformation Act, which envisions a nation that is fully prepared to leverage information and communications technology to greatly enhance public services, improve our knowledge system, develop digital platforms for learning and entrepreneurship, among others and ensure digital literacy among citizens and digital inclusion across sectors.

He also authored the Digital Payments Act to require government institutions and Filipino merchants to design, use and make available digital payment services for the convenience, security and safety of Filipinos.

He has also proposed a bill in the Senate to establish an incentives scheme for developers of science and technology parks, innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators across the country to ensure that packets of applied knowledge, avenues for creativity and collaboration, as well as shared service facilities are accessible in all regions which can serve as ideal venues to serve as freelancers havens as they earn for their families using their digital skills.

And most importantly, he co-authored a bill entitled the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act together with Senator Joel Villanueva to ensure the government's full support for digital workers and online freelancers. The goal is to mandate all agencies with relevant programs to allot resources and programs in support of the digital workers sector -- in terms of skilling, networking, professionalizing and equipping the sector to become a strong and productive part of our national economy.

The senator concluded his speech by stating that he personally believes in the potential of the sector to carry the flag for our country. By the competence, professionalism, digital and communication skills, and innate service orientation as Filipino online workers – it is just a matter of time – for this country to put our mark in the digital global services ecosystem.

It is my hope that the gains of the digital workers community continue even after the pandemic and the 2022 elections and that whoever wins as president, will have the lens of an innovator to strongly point this country in the right direction.


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