Monthly Archives: September 2018

Samar Starts A Spark in the ICT Industry

img_2057.jpgThe Provincial Government of Samar, through the Project Monitoring Office and the Provincial Investment and Trade Promotions Office hosted a Capability Development Workshop for the newly-created Spark Samar Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council last September 3, 2018 in Catbalogan City.

This project was initiated by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in preparation for the implementation of the Rural Impact Sourcing and other ICT programs in the Province of Samar.

This activity aims to bring together and capacitate the province’s key ICT industry players in order to push achieve the government’s goal of making Samar the next ICT hub in the country. The body is composed of representatives from the national and local government, academe and business sector.

img_2062.jpgDr. Mario Quijano, Provincial Administrator of Samar, addressing the workshop attendees, emphasized the goal of the province to embrace ICT as a tool to promote economic development, and generate jobs and investments for Samar. With the available talent supply of Samar, and the cooperation of all stakeholders, bolstered by the support of the provincial government, Quijano hopes to see the council help generate jobs within the province.

img_2044.jpgICT countryside advocate Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, co-founder, past president and current vice president of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) served as main resource speaker and facilitator.

Batapa-Sigue highlighted the need for unity to create a digital Philippine countryside powered by Filipino talent with Future of Work skills to push the Philippines among the world’s most future-ready nations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Officers and members of the ICT council include the provincial governor and vice governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Infrastructure and Investment, provincial Sangguniang  Kabataan (SK) Federation President, provincial department heads, representatives from DICT, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), state universities and private colleges, Samar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telecommunication companies, electric cooperatives in the area, law enforcement agencies, private sector business and local government units within the province.

Spark Samar started in 2015 as a tourism branding for the province but recently the desire to for innovation and job generation inspired the local stakeholders to bring the branding to the next level.

img_2045Batapa-Sigue stressed on the anchor initiative of NICP, now recognized nationally, the creation of ICT councils, an organizational model that brings together movers and key decision makers from the public or government sector (local or national line agencies), academe and human resource, and private or business and industry sector. The aim is to provide a platform to set directions to position their respective communities as strategic locations for ICT-enabled jobs and investments.

NICP was founded in 2008 to serve as a convergence of ICT councils all over the Philippines, representing the stakeholders in their respective geographical locations such as regions, provinces, cities and municipalities.


With DICT Team led by Nikko Visperas and Provincial Administrator Mario Quijano




Why am I not Running For Councilor Again?

This is the season when anywhere I go these days, people ask me these questions:

What position are your running for in 2019? Why are you not running again? What are you doing these days? Why did you step out of politics? What’s your plan? Your next move? Which party are your joining? These are tough questions – and I need to think of the right answer every time  depending on who is asking.

The “whats” are relatively easy. But the “whys” are hard.

I have spent 9 years in an elective position. And actively participated in 6 local elections. That is from 2001 to 2016. That’s 15 years of my life – immersed in what I always dreamed of as a child. But in 2016 when I took time to see what I have done – I realized I have done all that I needed to do in terms of policy making.

As a city councilor of one of the 33 highly – urbanized cities (HUCs) of the Republic of the Philippines, I take great pride in having served this city to the best of my ability.  In May 2001, when I decided to throw my hat in politics at the age of 28 – my fears where like maggots in my head – I was asking all the questions – why am I doing this? Politics is only for the rich. I did not even have a house of my own. No rich family name. Lower middle class.  I was a four year old lawyer and well, single, but I did not think it was a disadvantage. All I had was my father cheering me up. Like any parent, who thinks their child is a genius. Deep inside – it all felt unreal.

Joining a political party, campaigning every night. Shaking hands with everyone and sometimes in the haste of things, even shaking the hands of my own secretary standing among the crowd.

Looking for campaign funds was very hard. I did not want to starve people who were helping me. The need to feed my campaigners, buy fuel for all the vehicles used in my campaign, buy posters and stickers – all a daily concern. The first time I ordered posters worth 100,000.00 – I was trembling – telling myself – a hundred thousand could have fed so many families. But politics is like that – I could even be among the lowest spenders – trying to stay within the limit – around P3/voter – so around 750,000 for a councilor in a city of 250,000 voters approximately.

I ended up in 18th slot out of around 80 candidates in the race for 12 elected councilors in 2001. I lost, but surprisingly my loss was the reason I ran again in 2004. The poverty, the hopelessness, the joblessness I saw in many parts of my city affected me deeply. I thought I was so poor, not being able to eat the food I want, but others did not even have any food. For the first time in my life, I saw almost every nook and cranny of my city – I had to discard many of my illusions. I saw misery. I saw disease. But I saw hope. I saw a family of four with house as small as a pigsty – and they were eating bananas for lunch – but they gave me one. And my heart was crushed – I had to hide my tears – I went home every night feeling ungrateful for the things I have which I always thought were not enough.

And when I saw how campaigns were done – all the fanfare, the political jingles, the colorful nightly meetings, and candidates were briefed by political spinners on what to “say” – I was in a daze. We were assigned a particular advocacy and briefed on what programs we will present to the public – in my mind – I blurted – WHAT??? So people run for the sake of  running? No mission? No aspiration? All scripted? I ran because I know what I stand for and who I will speak for. To many – I may have sounded phony just like everyone, insincere, reading from a script – when I said I will speak for women and children, for education, for the environment. The public saw me for the first time – and like I was carrying the “world on my shoulders” – I would not have in fact believed myself if was listening to me. In politics, like in show business – it is really hard to tell who’s acting out a role and who’s crazy enough to really think the Heavens gave him or her a mission. I was among the crazy ones. Crazy to be throwing my hard-earned money from teaching and from my law practice to buy election materials. Crazy.

And so despite the circumstances at that time – I ran without a party. I was independent candidate in 2004 and in 2007. These two election years – I was elected as 4th and 3rd councilor, respectively. In 2010, I run for a seat to represent Bacolod in the House of Representatives, but God has a different plan for me. In 2013, I went back as a councilor and landed in the second slot. In 2016, I decided not to run anymore to concentrate on my advocacy to help create ICT jobs and opportunities in the country by helping other cities and provinces.

Looking back – when I got to the Sanggunian, I realized being elected is even harder than campaigning. I seldom cry out of loneliness, but anger and frustration are always the main reasons for my tears. And well, I cried myself dry all those nine years as councilor. Mostly, out of public sight.

But my eyes were on the goal – the need to be real, not fake. I asked the people of Bacolod to give me POWER. The power to legislate. I promised them I will study and burn the midnight candle – write all the things I promise and deliver them in the form of not only resolutions, but ordinances. I needed to walk the talk. For me policy making is a gift, an art, a craft, a mission and a blessing – to deliver what I have promised during the campaign.

I held a smaller stick compared to congressmen and women and senators – but I never thought my policy-making power was any thing less. Today, it is appalling for me to watch our national legislators these days – like clowns in business suits. Good intentions are not enough, one has to truly learn how to meaningfully weld the power to legislate.

My years in policy making gave me the rare opportunity to meet some of Bacolod’s great minds, from ordinary people to civic leader. I became their voice and their “pen” – I wrote their aspirations for them. I also saw how policies can push advocacy – make it stronger – and most of all channel resources to it.

As a councilor, we were given committees and I realized I cannot just create ordinances that are not related to my committees. In that sense, I need to carefully navigate my way in the Sanggunian. Be friendly to those committees whose support I needed. Despite that I had a couple of ordinances that did not say the light of day because the councilor in charge of the committee on which it falls under – did not lift a finger to support it. Sad. But that is part of internal rules. Referral to committee. To master the art of policy making is a skill that cannot be substituted by theatrical attributes.

Now to answer the question – why am I not running again? There are many reasons why I am no longer running for councilor of Bacolod – I share some of the reasons in private circles. But the major one is this –

I am no longer running as a councilor of Bacolod because I have delivered my promises to create ordinances that I have promised the people – concerns, systems and processes close to my heart.

Despite the difficulties, I enjoyed and learned from every public hearing, consultative meetings and Sanggunian deliberations for every ordinance.

Here are the list of ordinance I authored principally:

  1. Creation of Bacolod Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Help Desks in Seaports and Airports
  2. Annual Gawad Kooperatiba Awards and Support to Cooperativism and Cooperatives’ Projects in Bacolod City
  3. Laying the Procedures for Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) Endorsement to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Parks, Buildings, Tourism Development Zones and Economic Zones
  4. Celebration of April 22 as International Earth Day in Bacolod City and Creating Programs with the Private Sector and Schools in Support thereof
  5. Protection and Barangay Registration of Household or Domestic Workers (Kasambahays)
  6. The Gender and Development (GAD) Code of Bacolod City (This 26 paged ordinance was among my masterpieces. To this day, it is supposed to stand as the manual or guide for all GAD projects and programs of the city and all our barangays.
  7. Protection of Watershed Areas, Establishing Watershed Development and Water Conservation Programs for Bacolod City
  8. Institutionalization of Programs for Informal Sector Workers and Creating the Informal Sector Workers Desk of Bacolod
  9. Observance of June 13 – 19 as Social Work Week and Promotion of Social Work
  10. Establishing the Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, OAR Street Ordinance
  11. Creation of Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Council & Development of ICT Industry (as Co-Author of Councilor Lyndon Cana)
  12. Ordinance Implementing the Law Against Worst Forms of Child Labor and Developing Strategies to Lessen Child Labor in Bacolod such as the Intensive Implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program
  13. Observance of December 1 – 7 as Non-Government Organization-People’s Organizations (NGO-PO) Week
  14. Prevention of Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STI), Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) & Creation of Bacolod Local STI/HIV/AIDS Council
  15. Reduction of Police Clearance Fees for Purposes of Voter’s Registration
  16. Declaration of Bacolod as Organic City (Anti-GMO Ordinance) to complement the laudable efforts of the Province of Negros Occidental
  17. Procedures for the Development of Medical Tourism Parks and Retirement Villages
  18. Creation of the Bacolod Technology and Livelihood Development Center to encourage and showcase products made in the barangays of Bacolod
  19. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Measures Ordinance and Implementation of Strategies to Mitigate Pollution for Transport, Business and and Other Sectors
  20. Comprehensive Health and Wellness Ordinance and Promotion of Medical Tourism
  21. Promotion and Strengthening of the City of Bacolod as a Choice Destination for National and International Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE)
  22. Establishing the Bacolod City Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Training Scholarships for Contact Centers, Software Development, Game Development, Animation and other IT Courses
  23. Declaring February of Every Year as Bacolod Arts Month (BAM) and giving of annual awards to local artists in various fields
  24. Stronger Penalties for Vandalism in Bacolod City and Strategies to Enjoin Schools in the Fight Against Vandalism
  25. Regulation of the Commercial Sale of Spray Paint Cans in Bacolod to curtail vandalism
  26. Prescribing Mechanics of the Masskara Festival Celebration and setting the Cultural standards of the Festival, and Prescribing Procedures for Accountability of Third Party Organizers
  27. Institutionalizing a Tourism Homestay Program for Bacolod City and Setting Global Standards for Homestay facilities in Bacolod
  28. Ensuring Effective Implementation of Food Safety Standards in Bacolod City and the Implementing Rules and Regulations
  29. Creating the Bacolod Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council
  30. Establishing the Bacolod Business Promotions and Investments Week and Setting the Bacolod Trade Expo identifying Key Promotion Areas: Agriculture, Food and related industries, Gifts, Housewares, Decors and Other Craft-Based Industries, Manufacturing and other Industrial Business, Information and Communications Technology and Other Technology-Based Industries Tourism, Hospitality, Health and Wellness and Other Service Industries
  31. Establishing the Bacolod City Ordinance Awareness Week
  32. Establishing Guidelines for the Selection of the  Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer (LEIPO)

On June 30, 2016 – I ended my third term as city councilor of Bacolod with some unfinished ordinances. These are major ordinances to my mind, and so I asked some councilors to look into it and carry on.

  1. The “Walkable City” Ordinance of Bacolod, Prescribing Strategies to Improve the Pedestrian And Road-Sharing Experience in Bacolod
  2. Establishing the Bacolod City Competitiveness Council
  3. Creating the Charter for a Polytechnic University in Bacolod and Converting the Bacolod City College for that Purpose
  4. Establishing Central Business Districts in Bacolod
  5. Every First Week of July of Every Year As Cleft And Craniofacial Awareness And Prevention Week In The City Of Bacolod
  6. Establishing the Bacolod Youth Development Council (proposed when the SK was abolished
  • Every ordinance I penned has a story. Behind every policy where staunch advocates from the private sector – inspiring me and helping me in the crafting of the policies.
  • During my stint in the council, I had the chance to author several controversial resolutions as follows:
  • Establishing June 18 of every year as the official Charter Day of Bacolod since President Manuel L. Quezon signed Commonwealth Act No. 326 or the Charter of Bacolod City on June 18, 1938 and recognizing October 19 of every year as the inauguration of the city
  • Endorsing to the Office of the President the conversion into a special economic zone of the old Bacolod airport to host light to medium industries and ICT companies
  • Endorsing and urging Congress to pass the bill creating department of information and communications technology (DICT)

My sincere prayer, having written, and known by heart, the words of all these policies, is to see these ordinance jumping from paper to reality – policies to guide our city and inspire us. The objectives of each policy are outlined on its face – and its implementation – I fervently believe will contribute to the creation of a progressive and fully-developed city, ready to face the challenges of the future.

I have done my part – I have worked hard to argue, revise, argue again, revise again – each and every ordinance, which took many months, some even years to be approved.

I thank God for the opportunity to be able to deliver what I promised as a councilor – a policy maker. In its truest from  – regardless of how politicians are perceived today – I stand proud of being a legislator, policy maker and law maker of my city and my country. My sincere prayer is for this city to find good leaders to implement my ordinances. Hopefully, these leaders will emerge soon.

I am encouraging young Bacolodnons – 25 to 30 years of age to follow my path – find your voice – become a politician – a policy maker – stand up for others. Expect defeat – but stand up. Love our city even more. She deserves it.

I have done my part – the rest is up to the Greatest Law Giver.

Note: For a copy of each ordinance – one can contact me via our office landline at (034) 709-6135.

Sharing some of my old campaign pictures and materials still in my file.  I have been there – it was an inspiring part of my life but the rigors and the sacrifices are tremendous – I need to take the higher ground to be able to help my city without joining politics.

NICP: Leading Philippine ICT Councils as Engines for Digital Inclusion

The National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), a non-stock, non-profit organization, which was founded in 2008, serves as a convergence of information and communications technology (ICT) councils all over the Philippines, representing the stakeholders in their respective geographical locations such as regions, provinces, cities and municipalities.


Official NICP Logo

The idea started in 2007, when several ICT councils representing key cities in the country gathered in Cebu and sat with the Commission on ICT (CICT) to discuss how to grow ICT industry in the countryside.

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In 2008, at the initiation of the ten ICT councils, the first National ICT Summit was held in Iligan City and hosted by the Iligan ICT Council led by Dr. Emmanuel Lagare.



During the Iligan Summit, a meeting was held among the ICT champions, which resulted to the creation of NICP. Then named as National ICT Conference of the Philippines.

NICP 2008 Manifesto

Eventually in 2010, NICP was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2010 as the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP). Its Vision, Mission and Strategic Thrusts carried year after year as the organization grows.




In 2009, the second summit was held in Clark, Pampanga with NICP’s first president =, Dr. George Sorio in the helm.

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NICP Summit in Clark

In 2010, the summit was hosted by the Bacolod Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) in Bacolod City.


NICP Summit in Bacolod

In 2011, the summit was hosted by General Santos City and in 2012 by Sta. Rosa City, Laguna.

nicp-officers-2013-1.jpg2013 was supposedly Visayas’ turn but there was no summit in 2013 due to Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol Earthquake. In 2014, the summit was hosted by Davao City and in 2015 by Legazpi City.


NICP Summit in Legazpi City

In 2017, the summit was hosted by Leyte Province and Tacloban City and in 2017 by Cagayan de Oro City.

Today, NICP champions the vision of creating jobs especially in the countryside through its member ICT councils.

In 2013, the Philippine Smarter Countryside campaign was launched. Along with a map showing the different ICT Councils in the Philippines.

nicp smarter c logo

NICP-Map Philippinesn new

The brand of NICP which is now recognized in various forums is the encouragement and creation of ICT councils, an organizational model that brings together movers and key decision makers from the public or government sector (local or national line agencies), academe and human resource, and private or business and industry sector. The idea is to provide a platform to set directions to position their respective communities as strategic locations for ICT-enabled jobs and investments.


The ICT council model is now recognized by the Philippine IT BPM Roadmap 2022 which makes mention of the role of the councils especially in achieving inclusive growth, one of the high impact programs (HIP) for 2022. The ICT model has been presented in the United States of America, Bangladesh, Japan, India and Guatemala as a best practice.



Various activities are held by NICP to enhance the capabilities of ICT Councils in fulfilling their mission. Today, in partnership with various agencies such as the DICT, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and private companies, NICP delivers various programs to address the needs and requirements of the ICT councils.

Through the years, NICP’s mission has also evolved in several directions to complement this vision. The six major thrusts for NICP continue to address the challenges of time.


NICP Strategic Thrusts

NICP has been one of the strongest advocates that raised public awareness for various ICT policies including the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). NICP efforts stemmed from our sincere belief that ICT will be a vehicle for ensuring that the countryside is not neglected especially in the aspect of leveraging ICT to create jobs, generate investments and drive innovation all over the country and not just in Metro Manila. The thrusts of NICP are effectively carried out through its flagship projects.

In 2012, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the late Jesse Robredo, and the Cyber City Teleservices Philippines Inc. (CCTP) launched in synergy the Awards for Excellence in Governance Through ICT for Local Government Units or the eGov Awards.  The eGov Awards is the first and most prestigious recognition to be given by the ICT sector to LGUs with exemplary performance in empowering its Public Customers and Business.  It is an annual search for best practices in local government units in utilizing information and communications technology (ICT) to effectively and efficiently deliver its public services directly to its constituents and to its business stakeholders.


Signing of eGOV MOA with DILG

The first awarding ceremony was held as part of the annual summit of the NICP which is annually presented by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) since its inception in 2008, while still the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT).

The eGov Awards share the vision of establishing indices for local government units across the country in harnessing the potentials of ICT towards raising the bar in delivering public service.  By drawing attention to the best practices in integrating ICT capabilities and solutions, the different sectors of society, government units are enabled in their roles as catalyst of change.  It is hoped that with the eGOV awards strategy, the country will see the proliferation of revolutionary ICT initiatives that will support clearer, wider and faster access to information in our local government.

The Project aims to:

To highlight and encourage the effective and efficient the delivery of services and performance of the duties and responsibilities by local government units (LGUs) through the utilization of information and communications technology (ICT)

To share and replicate innovative practices, and commend, collate and document LGUs in integrating ICT in their processes to serve as example and benchmarks to other LGU’s.

To improve the business development, social services and the general ecosystem of the LGUs and motivate the private and business sector to actively participate and/or invest in the growth of the LGU’s.

To promote citizen’s responsibility and participation as well as accountability, efficiency and transparency in governance responsibility and encourage innovation.

It started with two categories in 2012, namely:

The Best in eGOV Customer Empowerment (G2C) Award – This category recognizes the measurable effect of an LGU’s outstanding practices  using ICT  solutions in the education and engagement of the public and in the use of electronic facilities and channels towards providing improved, timely and relevant delivery of public services.

The Best in eGOV Business Empowerment (G2B) Award – This category awards the significant effect of an LGU’s laudable practices in integrating ICT  solutions and the commitment of its  administration in the LGU’s responsiveness to the needs of business enterprises, thereby creating business  opportunities.

Eventually in 2017, the categories were expanded to five, with additional three categories, as follows:

The Best in eGOV Government Inter-Operability (G2G) Award – This category awards the valuable impact of an LGU’s initiative to connect data and systems with other government offices, both national and local for the convenience of their constituents and to improve its public service delivery.

The Best in eGOV Digital Finance (G2P) Award – This category commends the initiative of an LGU to promote e-commerce or e-payment facilities and systems to ensure effective revenue generation and collection and improving the over-all financial management of the LGU as well as giving convenience to the public.

The Best in eGOV  Data-Driven Governance Award (D2G) Award – This category cites the efforts of an LGU in recognizing that good governance through ICT goes hand in hand with the fair and responsible processing of data. Effective e-governance provides constituents with convenience and better services through the free flow of information while ensuring at the same time that personal data is protected.

In 2017, during the 9th NICP Summit in Cagayan De Oro, DICT and NICP along with other agencies jointly launched the Digital Cities project – the national flagship project to create smart or digital cities, especially in the areas of economic development, governance, lifestyle, talent development, mobility, and environment. During the 6th eGov Awards ceremony also in 2017, NICP and DICT jointly launched the re-branding of the eGov strategy to Digital Cities Philippines.


Launching of Digital Cities PH – eGOV Partnerships between NICP, DICT, and DILG in CDO

The Digital Cities PH Awards share the vision of establishing indices for local government units across the country in harnessing the potentials of ICT towards raising the bar in delivering public service. By drawing attention to the best practices showing outstanding and remarkable innovation in integrating ICT capabilities and solutions, the different sectors of society, and local government units are enabled in their roles as catalysts of change. For 2018, a sixth category was added.

The Best in eGOV Systems for Global Competitiveness (G2W) – This category cites the efforts of an LGU in developing world class systems in using ICT that are at par with international or internationally – recognized standards, thus making the LGU globally competitive, recognized, and virtually accessible and interactive.

The criteria for judging includes:

Innovative management (25 points) – This criterion demonstrates the degree to which the entry explored, applied and managed the elements and “outside-the-box” strategies that brought about the success of the entry.

Impact (25 points) – The project demonstrates the major results, their effects and benefits to the recipients of the service (public, employees, or business).

Relevance (25 points) – The project demonstrates how the entry relates to the overall objectives of the LGU and to the category to which it is nominated.

Replication Potential and Sustainability (25 points) – The project demonstrates the model qualities of the practice with the possibility and applicability of replicating it in other localities. It must demonstrate a level of sustainability or that the LGU can continue the project by addressing major disruptions.

The winning LGU’s will be asked to share their stories of best practices to other LGU’s and for their stories and pictures to be published in the various publication. These LGU’s may also be requested by NICP to speak in national and regional summits.


eGOV Awards during the NICP Summit in Davao

NICP today helps different LGUs create their own ICT councils anchored on the principles that government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction, that the private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure, that the academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education, and that all three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach.

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Today, NICP serves as the recognized advocate for countrywide ICT industry development. It is known as the champion for countryside digital development and a staunch advocate for developing a smarter countryside.

To learn more about the programs of NICP, please visit