PIAGAPO, LANAO DEL SUR – The first #DigitalBangsamoro Center in the Bangsamoro region, which features an interactive call center and a one-stop shop web portal for public services, was officially opened in the municipality of Piagapo, Lanao del Sur by the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines.
In an effort to make public service delivery more effective, efficient and accessible in Mindanao, the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) forged a partnership with UNDP Philippines for the Localizing e-Governance for Accelerated Provision of Services (LeAPS) Program—a flagship program of the MILG, which will support the Office of the Chief Minister, all BARMM ministries, and several LGUs in using ICT solutions to simplify business processes, thus improving the quality and speed of local public services and making these more accessible to the Bangsamoro people. The program also targets to overcome the reliance on archaic, paper-based, and manual processes within and among the local government units in the region.
The LeAPS Program is geared towards supporting the #DigitalBangsamoro vision of the BARMM government. It is currently being piloted in the 2 local government units Piagapo and Butig in Lanao del Sur, with the Digital Center in Piagapo being the first to be launched in the whole BARMM.
“This marks a significant milestone – a historic event for the whole BARMM. Piagapo is grateful to be the first to be given this program as we have been longing to have a program for the digitalization of public services. Hopefully, this can be rolled out in other municipalities and cities soon as well,” noted Piagapo Mayor Ali L. Sumandar in his message during the launch of the #DigitalBangsamoro Center.
This pilot digital center has an interactive call center, which directly connects the municipality to MILG and, potentially, to other LGUs in BARMM as well. Public servants who will work in the center will utilize the #DIgitalBangsamoro web portal, which serves as is a one-stop shop where citizens can easily access public information or transact through provision of various frontline services like birth certificate registration, business permit application, and others.
The #DigitalBangsamoro Center will process business permit applications and requests for certificates of live birth as an initial offering.
The center is connected to the internet through a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) unit, which enables citizens to be online despite the weak telecommunication network in the area.
MILG Director Fausiah K. Romancap-Abdula, who represented Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, highlighted the significance of the launch for the overall aspirations of the BARMM government to digitalize public service delivery. She said that: “The establishment of the #DigitalBangsamoro Center in Piagapo marks the start of addressing the digital divide as we maximize the partnerships and the linkages to create optimal impact to the communities.”
In his message, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran reiterated that: “the launch of the very first strategically-located Digital Center in Piagapo is only the beginning of our journey. We are here to turn the vision of #DigitalBangsamoro into reality. Here in Mindanao, digitalization plays a particularly significant role in the provision of critical public services to make sure that we leave no one behind.”
The launch was attended by Vice Governor of Lanao del Sur Mohammad Khalid “Mujam” Raki-in Adiong, several other Mayors where the LeAPS Program will be adapted, representatives of CSOs and education institutions, and citizens of Piagapo.
In 2022, MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo and Dr. Selva Ramachandran signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the expanded roll-out of the LeAPS program, which is set to pave the way for the 5-Year Digital Transformation Roadmap of BARMM after 2023. The full roll-out will cover all the 116 municipalities, 2 cities, and all the barangays in BARMM.
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