Metro LGUs turn to technology to better serve constituents – SHARP EDGES by JAKE J. MADERAZO
In the middle of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, local government units (LGUs) are turning to technology to facilitate the delivery of essential services to their constituents.
This is especially true among the more progressive and younger chief executives in Metro Manila.
For instance, Makati City has partnered with Globe’s GCash since 2017 with Mayor Abigail Binay consistently promoting the contact-free delivery of financial assistance to her constituents. Under its P2.7-billion Makatizen Economic Relief program, the city government has been distributing P5,000 to each registered voter, Yellow Card or Makatizen Card holder since last month.
The idea is to send the money to over 500,000 residents without exposing them to the virus. The process has been quick and safe—contact-free, no long lines or chaotic mass gatherings.
Even drivers of tricycles, jeepneys and pedicabs drivers have received their cash assistance through the mobile app.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian has also worked with GCash with the main idea of using it for money transfers and other official transactions.
On the other hand, Manila’s Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Quezon City’s Joy Belmonte have used Smart’s PayMaya to distribute funding to qualified beneficiaries, including students. The move seeks to empower recipients with a mobile platform providing access to financial tools like savings, credit and even investments.
In Makati City, residents can pay their taxes and other fees or transact business with City Hall using a mobile app.
Clearly, the use of digital tools has enabled Metro Manila LGUs to attend to their constituents faster, better and more efficiently.
It will be great to see more mobile apps like this, including one that can perhaps help in the diagnosis of suspected COVID-19 cases, including contact tracing. The coming school year with no face-to-face classes is a big technological challenge. It will be interesting to see how our local officials will outdo each other in terms of internet connectivity and online learning systems.
Amid this pandemic, there is hope. The best local chief executives have been on the innovation trail for a while now and the rest will have no choice but to follow their lead.
We should support the government’s efforts to change our mass transport system. We cannot return to the everyday “carmageddon” on Edsa and the failed yellow lane system.
I am supporting the one-time rationalization of all bus routes to harmonize passenger movement from the suburbs to the train systems like the Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, and the new Edsa busway system.
For decades, we have seen circuitous bus routes that include “colorum” buses due to corrupt officials in the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. This must stop at once.
We must also make a decision on the fate of 55,000 traditional passenger jeepneys under the “new normal.”
Personally, I would advise that our jeepney operators and drivers become “viajeros,” or wholesale peddlers of vegetables or meat from the north, fish from the Navotas fishport or Laguna de Bay, directly servicing Metro Manila’s hundreds of public markets and private “talipapa.”
They would make more money than under the present boundary setup.
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