Category Archives: Opinion


Written below is an excerpt from the historical account written by Antonio Pigafetta about the Battle of Mactan, Philippines on April 26 and 27, 1521.

Source: The First Voyage Round the World by Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley

My own artwork depicting Cilapulapu: The Brave Defended of Mactan

Friday, the 26th of April, Zula, who was one of the principal men or chiefs of the island of Matan, sent to the captain a son of his with two goats to make a present of them, and to say that if he did not do all that he had promised, the cause of that was another chief named Silapulapu, who would not in any way obey the King of Spain, and had prevented him from doing so: but that if the captain would send him the following night one boat full of men to give him assistance, he would fight and subdue his rival. On the receipt of this message, the captain decided to go himself with three boats. We entreated him much not to go to this enterprise in person, but he as a good shepherd would not abandon his flock.

We set out from Zubu at midnight, we were sixty men armed with corslets and helmets; there were with us the Christian king, the prince, and some of the chief men, and many others divided among twenty or thirty balangai. We arrived at Matan three hours before daylight. The captain before attacking wished to attempt gentle means, and sent ​on shore the Moorish merchant to tell those islanders who were of the party of Cilapulapu, that if they would recognise the Christian king as their sovereign, and obey the King of Spain, and pay us the tribute which had been asked, the captain would become their friend, otherwise we should prove how our lances wounded. The islanders were not terrified, they replied that if we had lances, so also had they, although only of reeds, and wood hardened with fire. They asked however that we should not attack them by night, but wait for daylight, because they were expecting reinforcements, and would be in greater number. This they said with cunning, to excite us to attack them by night, supposing that we were ready; but they wished this because they had dug ditches between their houses and the beach, and they hoped that we should fall into them.

We however waited for daylight; we then leaped into the water up to our thighs, for on account of the shallow water and the rocks the boats could not come close to the beach, and we had to cross two good crossbow shots through the water before reaching it. We were forty-nine in number, the other eleven remained in charge of the boats. When we reached land we found the islanders fifteen hundred in number, drawn up in three squadrons; they came down upon us with terrible shouts, two squadrons attacking us on the flanks, and the third in front. The captain then divided his men in two bands. Our musketeers and crossbow-men fired for half an hour from a distance, but did nothing, since the bullets and arrows, though they passed through their shields made of thin wood, and perhaps wounded their arms, yet did not stop them. The captain shouted not to fire, but he was not listened to. The islanders seeing that the shots of our guns did them little or no harm would not retire, but shouted more loudly, and springing from one side to the other to avoid our shots, they at the same time drew nearer to us, throwing arrows, javelins, spears hardened in fire, stones, and ​even mud, so that we could hardly defend ourselves. Some of them cast lances pointed with iron at the captain-general.

He then, in order to disperse this multitude and to terrify them, sent some of our men to set fire to their houses, but this rendered them more ferocious. Some of them ran to the fire, which consumed twenty or thirty houses, and there killed two of our men. The rest came down upon us with greater fury; they perceived that our bodies were defended, but that the legs were exposed, and they aimed at them principally. The captain had his right leg pierced by a poisoned arrow, on which account he gave orders to retreat by degrees; but almost all our men took to precipitate flight, so that there remained hardly six or eight of us with him. We were oppressed by the lances and stones which the enemy hurled at us, and we could make no more resistance. The bombards which we had in the boats were of no assistance to us, for the shoal water kept them too far from the beach. We went thither, retreating little by little, and still fighting, and we had already got to the distance of a crossbow shot from the shore, having the water up to our knees, the islanders following and picking up again the spears which they had already cast, and they threw the same spear five or six times; as they knew the captain they aimed specially at him, and twice they knocked the helmet off his head. He, with a few of us, like a good knight, remained at his post without choosing to retreat further. Thus we fought for more than an hour, until an Indian succeeded in thrusting a cane lance into the captain’s face. He then, being irritated, pierced the Indian’s breast with his lance, and left it in his body, and trying to draw his sword he was unable to draw it more than half way, on account of a javelin wound which he had received in the right arm. The enemies seeing this all rushed against him, and one of them with a great sword, like a great scimetar[187] gave him a ​great blow on the left leg, which brought the captain down on his face, then the Indians threw themselves upon him, and ran him through with lances and scimetars, and all the other arms which they had, so that they deprived of life our mirror, light, comfort, and true guide. Whilst the Indians were thus overpowering him, several times he turned round towards us to see if we were all in safety, as though his obstinate fight had no other object than to give an opportunity for the retreat of his men. We who fought to extremity, and who were covered with wounds, seeing that he was dead, proceeded to the boats which were on the point of going away. This fatal battle was fought on the 27th of April of 1521, on a Saturday; a day which the captain had chosen himself, because he had a special devotion to it. There perished with him eight of our men, and four of the Indians, who had become Christians; we had also many wounded, amongst whom I must reckon myself. The enemy lost only fifteen men.

He died; but I hope that your illustrious highness will not allow his memory to be lost, so much the more since I see revived in you the virtue of so great a captain, since one of his principal virtues was constance in the most adverse fortune. In the midst of the sea he was able to endure hunger better than we. Most versed in nautical charts, he knew better than any other the true art of navigation, of which it is a certain proof that he knew by his genius, and his intrepidity, without any one having given him the example, how to attempt the circuit of the globe, which he had almost completed.[188]

The Christian king could indeed have given us aid, and would have done so; but our captain far from forseeing that which happened, when he landed with his men, had charged him not to come out of his balangai, wishing that he should ​stay there to see how we fought. When he knew how the captain had died he wept bitterly for him.

In the afternoon the king himself with our consent, sent to tell the inhabitants of Matan, that if they would give up to us the body of our captain, and of our other companions who were killed in this battle, we would give them as much merchandise as they might wish for; but they answered that on no account would they ever give up that man, but they wished to preserve him as a monument of their triumph. 

Good Citizens Deserve Good Government

Published in Disruptive Mode on Sunstar on February 4, 2020.

We deserve the kind of government we have, says a wide adage. Hence, a citizenry that allows corruption to thrive deserves the poor service and substandard programs it receives from its government. Last week, I shared the salient features of RA 11032, a new law which promotes ease of doing business and efficient government. I shall continue sharing more salient features of the so-called ease of doing business (EODB) law, which calls for the streamlining and improving the current systems and procedure of government services and aims to reduce processing time, cut bureaucratic red tape and eliminate corrupt practices.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) aggressively undertakes a nation-wide campaign to promote the law anchored on its main benefit – faster and easier application for government-issues permits, licenses and certificates. Customers, clients or citizens are encouraged to provide feedback for service improvement should they be not satisfied with the service provided.

The law mandates the reengineering of systems and procedures starting with by undertaking cost compliance analysis, time and motion studies, and evaluation and improvement of transaction systems and procedures. All government offices must also undergo regulatory impact assessment of proposed regulations to establish if the proposed regulation does not add undue regulatory burden and cost to agencies and applicants or requesting parties; and initiate review of existing policies and operations and commence with the reengineering of systems and procedures.

All LGUs are required to streamline procedures for the issuance of local business licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations through the use of unified business application form, establishment of business one stop shop (BOSS). Cities and municipalities are mandated to automate their business permitting and licensing system or set up an e-BOSS within by 2021 or within 3 years from the passage of the law.

Barangay clearances and permits related to doing business shall be applied, issued, and collected at the city or municipality or co-located within the LGUs. The city or municipal business process and licensing office shall not require the same documents already provided by an applicant or requesting party to the local government. Business permits shall be valid for a period of 1 year. The city or municipality may have the option to renew business permits within the first month of the year or on the anniversary date of the issuance of the business permit.

Under RA 11032 and which should be defined in the local government unit’s citizen’s charter, the maximum prescribe time for simple transaction is 3 working days. For complex transactions, the maximum period is 7 working days and highly technical transaction, 20 working days. The period may be extended only once for the same number of days. For transactions which requires Sanggunian approval, the maximum is 45 working days. The period can be extended for another 20 working days.

The mandated maximum deadline for issuance of Fire safety Evaluation Clearance (FSEC) and for Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) is 7 working days,          while for a Certificate of Fire Incident (CFI), 20 working days and may be extended once. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) must also be co-located at the BOSS of the city or municipality, where said office shall enter into agreement and develop an online or electronic mechanism for such applications. The BFP shall not sell, offer or recommend specific brands of fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment to any applicant or requesting party or business entity, otherwise the guilty officer will be liable by imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos.

Punishable acts under RA 11032 include acceptance of application or request with complete requirements being submitted by an applicant or requesting party without due cause; imposition of additional requirements other than those listed in the Citizen’s Charter; and imposition of additional costs not reflected in the Citizen’s Charter. The law also penalizes the failure to give the applicant or requesting party a written notice on the disapproval of an application or request; failure to render government services within the prescribed processing time on any application or request without due cause; failure to attend applicants or requesting parties who are within premises of the office or agency concerned prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch break; failure or refusal to issue official receipt; and fixing and/or collusion with fixers in consideration or economic and/or other gain or advantage.

Penalties and liabilities range from 6 months without pay as administrative liability for first offence and disqualification from the public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits for second offense, including imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos. Criminal Liability shall also be incurred through the commission of bribery, extortion, or when the violation was done deliberately and maliciously to solicit favor in cash or in kind.

Fearless Innovation Forecasts for 2020

Published in SunStar Bacolod on January 15, 2020

Last week, I shared my four of my new year’s resolution and a list of ten paradigm shifts that I am hoping to see happen soon if we are to successfully survive this decade as a city, and hopefully as a country. This week, I am sharing my fifth resolution which is to share my knowledge and skills to as many people as possible. Last year, I have met with some of my fellow Toastmasters members to plan about creating public speaking workshops for professionals.

This week, I have launched the free digital marketing support for small entrepreneurs in Negros Occidental through the site.  I wish to help small entrepreneurs and promote the component cities and municipalities of Negros Occidental. Last year, when we were developing the site and linking all LGU sites, I noticed that not even half of the 19 municipalities and 12 cities have their own websites, and only a few have fully interactive functionalities aside from static data.

Our goal is to help assist in digitalizing simple processes like promotions from traditional flyers and physical marketing to virtual materials and digital marketing. Therefore, I humbly offer individual pages for free to small MSMES all around Bacolod and Negros Occidental and all LGUs for their temporary tourism sites. We will also assist in design and creating content. This is our little gift to Negros Occidental and fellow Negrenses. A team of young digital entrepreneurs in Bacolod can also provide you with free advice on how to promote your places and sell your products online taking advantage of eCommerce technologies.

To pave the way for many more innovation, I am sharing some of my fearless forecasts in the field of innovation in 2020 in this week’s piece.

First: More countryside advocates will demand for development anchored on inclusive and sustainable growth and will no longer accept geographical challenges as a major stumbling block. Development to be sustainable must be inclusive.

Second: The more meaningful and relevant development ideas will come from the countryside. Technocrats of Metro Manila and other metropolitan cities need to listen more. The lack of a more engaged process of listening could be one of the major stumbling blocks for the frustrating disconnections I have perceived between technology advocates and end-users, or stakeholders, as a more profound term.

Third: Skills-based approach will be more pervasive in the formal education sector. Academicians have no choice but to adapt to Industry 4.0 talent requirements to avoid the eventuality of becoming diploma mills while their graduates seek other forms of practical industry training after receiving their diplomas.

Fourth: Other traditional sectors will start to be enlightened about how technology can be made cost-effective, seamless and ubiquitous but applied extensively for their own requirements. They will pierce the veil of mystery of the so-called digital divide. And unmask those who continuously create the divide for their own interest and profits.

Fifth: Design thinking will find its practical use in many milieus of society as a way to fuse disruptive technologies with community aspirations to create more meaningful solutions.

My earnest and fervent prayer for 2020 is to see more stakeholders start to realize the need to change. I hope I will start to make sense to as many key decision-makers as possible because I can support the ideas and examples with data and initiatives – if one has time to listen.

Our greatest enemy in 2020 is obsolescence. Sadly, this animal is well dressed up so colorfully, it’s like a silent virus. Politics has permeated every corner of society, at the risk of killing innovation before it can even prove its value. The lines have been cleverly blurred in the past decade. But this decade is a decade of purging. Innovation will find a true ally in inclusion. New technologies will force the issue of change and adaptation.

READ original column HERE.

Paradigm Shifts in 2020

Published in SunStar Bacolod on January 7, 2020

A decade of great progress starts with one day. Just like a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. The world welcomes the new decade in high spirits and with high hopes that this year will be more favorable than the previous one. 2019 seems to be a long time ago with all these feeling of optimism just waiting to escape – the kind that believes things need to change. The first days of the year were spent in reflection – about what needs to change.

By now I have listed a couple of new year’s resolution. On top of my list is my drive to seriously work on things that will reduce my carbon and waste footprint on this planet. Everyone deserves to breath the same fresh air I do and to occupy the safe healthy environment that I do. My passion for environmental protection will continue more aggressively this year as I wish to combine information and communications technology (ICT) with environmental projects. Consistently, I will be spending my weekends organizing garage sales.

My second resolution is to go back to active law practice. My years in politics have affected my legal profession. A few days ago. I launched my Philippine Legal Research site – – a repository of all legal researches of my law students and my legal articles.

My third resolution is to spend more time with old friends, to reconnect with my past and arrange my schedules and activities in a way that I get to have time with them.  My fourth resolution is to actively collate, process and share data to be shared for positive purposes – education, information, convenience, guidance, among other things.

Reflecting on all the things I have learned in the past decade, which is probably the most exciting, having travelled every year to a foreign country and attending various fellowships, I came up with Top 10 Paradigm Shifts for the Philippines (because it is happening elsewhere). Some truths are painful. But don’t hate me, I am just pointing out the direction away from obsolescence. The paradigm shifts that are hard to happen or come by almost anywhere you go because of hardened traditions and close-mindedness. But they are all worth exploring. I think only when these new paradigms happen – can we see big data used for good. Here are “shifts” I wish to see in this decade:

1) For business chambers and sectors to be led by entrepreneurs rather than corporate employees,  and landlords;

2) For local government to be led by licensed professionals who are known in their fields of experience and exposure instead of professional politicians;

3) For enterprise organizations to be led by social enterprise and impact development professionals instead of individual business owners;

4) For universities to be led by instruction experts with years of industrial exposure instead of purely academicians;

5) For startup development and innovation initiatives to be led innovation and business development professionals with extensive entrepreneurship experience instead of government theorists;

6) For environmental campaigns to be led by professionals knowledgeable in harnessing technology and creating green solutions aside from and together with environmental activists;

7) For arts and culture programs to be led by artistic catalysts with understanding on building creative spaces and putting together a culture of creativity and not just individual artists;

8) For media to be led by professionals with understanding of big data, data analytics, how public react to data and how data can mold public opinion for positive development instead of media trying to simply earn a living;

9) For women’s advocacies to be led by women (or men) aware and learned about mechanisms to make women more productive and contributory to the growth of their household and economy as respected members of society, and not just gender advocates shouting for equality; and

10) For youth development programs to be led by independent-minded, resourceful, creative and knowledgeable members of the new generation rather than just youth leaders of politicians.

READ original column in SunStar Here.


Note: I found this piece in my computer files today. It looked like an unfinished speech in 2019. Let me share it anyway to preserve it.

As I enter one of the most crucial challenges in my life to day – running for the mayor of the City of Bacolod – I face another important reckoning – an opportunity to assess the person you see in the mirror.

I ask myself the most important question today – what is my brand of leadership as the highest leader of a city? What does it mean when we say Jocelle Batapa Sigue leadership? I reflect upon my life as a leader since I was 6, and president of my first grader class until today as I review my curriculum vitae. I see many accomplishments and milestones – but then I still have to go back to the question – so what is it a Jocelle Batapa Sigue brand of leadership?

For me, leadership is not a position. It is a responsibility. It is beyond the title, it is what you are set to accomplish using the title you hold. To easily remember the four basic tenets I follow – I will use my tagline – a branding I have used since my second term as councilor sometime in 2007, or around ten years already – JOBS. Jobs, because I was serious in dedicating myself to the cause of creating information and communications technology (ICT) jobs since my first term began in 2004. That is a long story which is already amply covered by many materials available in the Internet. Creating opportunities for Bacolod in the ICT industry has become not only a committee responsibility since I took on the task s Sanggunian Panlugsod chair of communications and energy in 2004 – but has become an advocacy, a life-long passion until today.

Now JOBS is going beyond just its literal meaning and the fact that it is my initials JO from my first name and B for Batapa and S for Sigue.

J is for job generation and investment promotions. The end goal of a series of objectives that need to be accomplished first, such as, but not limited to:

  • Talent Development Roadmap for Bacolod which entails a comprehensive summary and analysis of our available skills in the city across all industries (not just ICT) focused on skilling, upskilling and re-skilling the talent supply, a clear and time-bound set of strategies to develop digital skills across all sectors to prepare the talent pool for the Future of Work, a continuous series of T3s (train the trainers/train the teachers) programs to ensure quality and scale of educational and training programs.
  • Business Environment, Infrastructure, Cost and Ease of Doing Business which are all indicators for the attractiveness of location to the influx of digital jobs or ICT-enabled employment opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures or startups. A mandatory compliance to the provisions of the new Ease of Doing Business law is going to be the first order of the day. There is a need to actively involve the business and private sector in addressing all current bottlenecks like energy supply, peace and order, traffic management, solid waste management and other environmental issues. A strong collaboration between the city and the business sector will serve as a mechanism to identify more relevant strategies along the way and allow for future and long-term planning.
  • Business and Investment Promotions and the need to institutionalize programs to constantly develop investment campaigns for Bacolod across identified potential industries is also in the forefront of my plans.

O is for Open Governance. A policy direction that is very close to my heart, as a systems thinker, I see the importance of bringing government closer to the people – as way of not only securing valuable feedback but a way to constantly gather ideas and solutions.

Under the concept of an OPEN Bacolod – I have four basic items that spells OPEN.

O for online, real-time easy access of every citizen to facts, data and figures pertaining to the operations, finances and administration of the city. These will entail for all data to be digitized and made available to the public. The use of online procurement system, business permit registration and registration and licensing for other departments and other transactions shall pass from experimental to full operation stage in the soonest possible time.

P is performance scorecards and ratings. In order to ensure and maintain the quality of government services, feedback mechanisms that comes with ratings for each department of the city shall be in place. Top performing agencies shall be duly commended while those with concerns will have to be revisited and improved for efficiency. We shall bring back the trust and confidence of the public for all department of the city and strive to uplift the moral of public employees through incentive program and continuous trainings.

E is for emergency and other support services.  The website of Bacolod shall not be static but interactive and hotlines for citizen’s concerns shall be in place. The website shall be fully accessible especially through mobile. The city shall ensure availability of Internet/wi-fi hotspots in major public areas for use during emergency. Closed circuit TV systems, and GPS and other technologies shall be used to ensure 24/7 safety in the city. A well-established central command shall be in place with the mayor having 24/7 direct access and full view of all cameras in major public places. Sensors and other technologies shall also be put in place to detect flood water rise and other calamities.

N is for new ideas and solutions. Open governance extends to policy innovation – creating a way to effectively crowd source new ideas and solutions from concerned groups. The city will support the development of startups engaged in developing and deploying technologies which may prove useful for Bacolod to become a smart city – with focus on major points such as transportation, healthcare, business, public services, education, and tourism.

B is for Barangay Development and Empowerment. Under my leadership, I shall empower the barangays to really create significant impact on their constituency through effective power sharing and sharing of resources. The barangays shall be in the frontline of effectively addressing and managing solid waste, all forms of pollution, transportation matters and peace and order within their area of jurisdiction with the full support of the city in terms of resources and technical guidance. Continuous training and development of barangay officials including Sanggunian Kabataan officials shall be a priority of the city. Productive dialogue and consultations between the mayor’s office and the barangays shall take place regularly to ensure collaboration. 

S is for Sectoral Participation and Consensus Building. Most important ingredient of my leadership is consensus building – a brand of governance that is participatory and consultative. To address concerns and issues in a relevant and responsive way by engaging and empowering the concerned sectors to develop solutions for themselves. The city shall empower each major sector to have access to information and opportunities to raise their concerns to the city – these include informal sector workers such as farmers, fisherfolks, drivers, construction workers, vendors, professionals, teachers, senior citizens, women and children’s groups, PWDs, LGBTs, minorities and many more.

By creating a participatory and consultative environment, I will ensure that under my leadership – respect for the independence of the Sangguniang Panlungsod is observed. As a former councilor for nine years, I have only my deepest respect for the Sanggunian as an institution and a co-equal body to the executive. Regardless of political affiliations, my leadership will work closely and harmoniously with all elected councilors especially on their concerns as committee chairs. I will objectively collaborate with the Sanggunian in achieving proper implementation of all existing ordinances that are aligned with the urgent needs of the people and direction of my leadership.

Under this premise, the major documents that I wish to see being prepared are the following:

  1. Executive – Legislative Agenda (ELA)
  2. Solid waste management program
  3. Comprehensive land use plan

Understanding Herd Immunity

Written and Posted on Facebook By R. Dennis Garcia

Dear friends and policy-makers,

When May 1 comes and we go out of our homes, we will not be immune to COVID-19 any more than we were before March 16, except for the few of us who were infected in the preceding 6 weeks. Indeed, if 10,000 Filipinos would have been infected by May 1, this would only amount to 0.009% of the PH population, hardly a dent towards obtaining herd immunity against the dreaded virus.

At the onset of the lockdown on March 16, the doubling time of COVID-19 cases was 5 days. By April 15, as an effect of the lockdown, the doubling time had prolonged to 13.8 days.

The Phl population is 110M. To achieve a sizable herd immunity, we generally have to have at least 70% of the population to have been infected by COVID-19, and to have recovered.

Over how long a time can we achieve that 70%?

Once the lockdown is lifted on May 1, if there are 10,000 Filipinos infected by then, and if people behave as they did before March 16 (inadequate social distancing, unimpeded outside activities, no substantial use of masks in public), it will require roughly thirteen doubling times, if viral spread is transferred efficiently from person to person, in order to infect 82M Filipinos. With a 5-day doubling time, the date by which 82M Filipinos would have been infected will be as early as July 5. 82M is 74% of the Phl population, enough for herd immunity. As the viral transfer becomes inefficient when more people become infected and recover, if the doubling time is spaced out to 9 days, the new date by which 82M Filipinos will be infected will be August 26. Currently, on April 15, due to the lockdown’s inhibiting effect on the spread of the virus, the doubling time has prolonged to 14 days. If we assume that when the lockdown is lifted on May 1, and we can still have a 14-day doubling time (because people will be good at preventing horizontal transfer as they go back to work and school), we will achieve the 82M Filipinos infected by October 17 (ie., thirteen doubling times).

In all of the above scenarios, if the target herd population to be infected is 82M Filipinos, and based on Chinese data, 20% of infected people will become severely ill, this means that 16.4M Filipinos (of the 82M) will need in-patient hospital care between May 1 to October 17. So, the huge question is: will the hospitals throughout Metro Manila and the rest of the country be able to provide beds, HCWs, ventilators and medications to admit and treat 16.4M Filipinos between May 1 to October 17? If we divide the 16.4M over 5 & 1/2 months (to October 17), the number will be about 3M admissions/month. Where will we get these beds, medications, ventilators and personnel? Another problem is that when moderately ill COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, the length of stay lasts 2-3 weeks, tying up a hospital bed for a prolonged time. Yet another problem is that, as the hospital industry is unable to provide the necessary hospital care to those who need it, the mortality rate will rise compared to what it is now.
Prolonging the lockdown will continue to slow down the spread, perhaps past 2020. Otherwise, a quickly developed and approved vaccine is the only real solution for an illness with no clear effective treatment. The former is untenable much longer because people are growing hungry, using up their savings, losing their jobs, while government has finite resources by which to feed the people, and, heaven forbid, law and order may break down. The government will have to find the best balance at allowing a gradual lifting of the lockdown to allow essential industries to operate, allowing less-at-risk working populations to return to employment, while shielding the elderly and those with co-morbidities at home, and enforcing strict and punishable rules on containing the spread of infection by having masked civilians on the streets, offices and schools; encouragement of home-based work, and well thought-out mass transportation arrangements, among many things.

Otherwise, for the health care industry to not collapse in the 3-4 weeks after the lockdown is lifted on May 1, the following have to be present by then, or within 2 weeks of that date:

1. Testing capacity should be adequate for the whole Phl. Those who are sick have to be tested, so that every ill person is identified, treated, quarantined and/or hospitalized.

2. Quarantine facilities in every town, city and province should be ready for occupancy, numbering in the thousands of beds for big cities.

3. The LGU should be able to fund the needs of the quarantine facility.

4. Multiple COVID-contact tracking teams employed by each local government, whose job will be to do contact tracing of all COVID+ people and their contacts, should be in existence. Their job will be to see to it that the COVID+ patients and their contacts are staying at home, if they are clinically well and the home is big enough, or are housed in the LGU’s quarantine facility. Quarantining is the best way to protect the COVID+ patient’s family and housemates from becoming ill themselves, especially for people who live in one-room homes. Placing them in the quarantine facility will also prevent them from unnecessarily occupying a much needed hospital bed, which should be saved for the 20% of sick and elderly people who really need these beds. The hospitalized COVID+ cases can also be discharged to the quarantine facility, to finish the quarantine period, so that they do not infect their housemates if and when they go home too early.

5. The people who test positive, and those suspected to have it, should be placed in the quarantine facility, if not in their homes, for the obligatory number of days. This process will shield the community and limit the virus’ spread.

6. National and local governments have to designate the local hospital which will take in the COVID+ and probable cases all over the country, down to the smallest town. The medical, nursing and HCW staffs have to be increased, correspondingly, to the expected huge increase in workload.

7. The moderately and critically ill will be admitted to appropriately staffed and stacked government COVID-19-designated and private hospitals.

8. Appropriate numbers and volume of PPEs, pulse oximeters, oxygen tanks, ventilators, medications and other medical needs should be budgeted for and obtained.

9. The goverment needs to continue to support private hospitals, which will continue to provide for the bulk of in-patient care, as has been noted in Metro Manila.

10. Most importantly, the public has to be continuously reminded that going out of one’s home everyday is a life-and-death decision, and should be considered as such.

Unfortunately, this problem will not go away like a bad dream when we open our eyes in the morning. By having a populace well-educated and conscious of how to avoid getting the infection and spreading it to others, and with the necessary preparations of the government and private sectors through testing, pursuing ill people and their contacts, quarantining, protecting HCWs, and bracing hospitals, which are the last strongholds of the battle, we can see a situation wherein the Filipino population can attain a recovered number of people necessary to attain herd immunity over a manageable prolonged time period, like over 2-3 years (unless we are fortunate to have a vaccine within a year), while avoiding a total collapse of the hospital and health care industries in a situation of anarchy.
We do hope and pray for the best and God’s grace, but we all have to concretely realize what we are up against in the next many months.

R. Dennis Garcia
Infectious Disease Physician

IMPORTANT: This FB Post has been copied in verbatim without any editing or modification and with knowledge of author.

Are you asking the right questions?


Creating a conducive location that is ripe for information and communications technology (ICT) – enabled jobs and investments is never easy.  For over a decade, I have been immersed in countless meetings with investors and stakeholders in more than 50 provinces around the country. I have practically been to all the regions of the Philippines helping and assisting ICT councils and stakeholders composed of academe, government and industry as well as other important sector in building the right ecosystem. I have also led countless presentations before due diligence teams of investors searching for the right location, especially outside of Metro Manila.

In Bacolod, there are currently more than ten major ICT companies but I have pitched to almost a hundred for the last fifteen years. We were able to attract a good ten (10) percent of the companies we invited or presented to and yielded around 30,000 jobs.  

I have kept many guide materials and only share with local government units (LGUs) and stakeholders during workshops so they can understand where to start. Now I am sharing this publicly. I am also willing to assist LGUs and ICT councils in obtaining collectively possible answers to these questions. These “how” questions are not only for LGUs and ICT councils to answer but these are also just some of questions investors ask today when they go to your locations. It is not advisable for any leader to expect easy questions that start with who, what, when, where.

Do you want to create thousands of ICT jobs in your community – answer these questions first.

How do you get the buy-in of stakeholders to collaborate towards attracting ICT jobs and investments? How do you change the mindset of the community to embrace ICT jobs? How do you reach your target market? How do you create the right branding or message? How do you improve your ecosystem in terms of talent quality and scalability, infrastructure, business environment, ease and cost of doing business? Which areas need to be improved further? Which areas can you improve on your own? Which areas can you improve only with the help of others? How can you build a strong ICT organization? How can you build a sustainable organization? How can you align your local targets with national and international targets? How can you ensure cooperation and commitment of your members? How can you ensure the sustainability and business growth of your locators? How can you identify or address locators’ needs and requirements? How can you immediately deliver these needs and requirements? How can you raise funds and resources for your ICT programs and projects? How can you get the public to understand and participate in your programs and projects? How can you access industry support and guidance? How can you get the support of the general business sector in your area? How can you get the support and commitment of the national government? How can you ensure a continuing conducive business environment for your existing locators? How can you assure your locators of quality and quantity of talent? How do you ensure the presence of sufficient infrastructure in your area? How can you ensure the presence of PEZA accredited information technology parks and buildings? How can you ensure industry calibrated and standardized training programs? How do you adopt to the changes in technology and to new innovation? How do you address again disruptions? How do you ensure business continuity in the face of natural calamities and manmade disasters?

Leaders can never leave investments and job generation to chance. Sadly, many leaders commit that mistake. Leaders also need to listen and work more instead of just talk all the time. Leaders are not assumed to have all the answers but good leaders need to ask the right questions. Sadly, many leaders are fond of lip service.

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Competence in the Digital Age


Are you competent in the digital age? This is a question that is probably challenging to answer in the Philippines considering that we do not have a clear and unified national digital competence framework for citizens. The ITU Digital Skills Insights 2019 cites reference frameworks for digital competence create an agreed vision of what is needed in terms of competences to overcome the challenges that arise from digitization in almost all aspects of our lives. Examples at the global level is the European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp) and the UNESCO media literacy (ML) and information literacy (IL) framework.

I share the aim of ITU to constantly hammer along these lines in order to assist policymakers and stakeholders to understand various uses of reference frameworks, especially for teachers, for educational organizations such as schools, and for citizens to cope with digital marketplaces.

ITU considers reference frameworks as platforms to create a common understanding through agreed definitions and set vocabulary that can be consistently applied in all tasks from policy formulation, target setting and monitoring, instructional planning including curriculum reforms and teacher education, and assessment and certification.

A good framework helps in identifying specific competences that should be addressed and foresees learning outcomes and proficiency levels and serves as a tool to create valid and reliable measurement and assessment instruments as to how the digital skills of a country’s talent pool improves through time.

DigComp 2013 defined digital competence as a combination of 21 competences that can be grouped in five main areas: information and data literacy, communication and collaboration; digital content creation; safety; and problem solving.

Primary citizens’ skills include browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content; evaluating data, information and digital content; and managing data, information and digital content. The second level includes interacting, sharing information, engaging in citizenship and collaborating through digital technologies, observing netiquette and managing digital identity. The third level includes developing digital content, integrating and re-elaborating digital content, securing copyright and licenses, and programming. The fourth level includes protecting devices, personal data and privacy, as well as protecting health and well-being and the environment. The fifth level includes solving technical problems, identifying needs and technological responses, creatively using digital technologies and identifying digital competence gaps.

The UNESCO elements of media literacy (ML) include the ability to acquire and use skills (including ICTs) needed to produce user-generated content, critically evaluate media content in the light of media functions, engage with media for self-expression, intercultural dialogue and democratic participation. The elements of information literacy (IL) include the skills to define and articulate information needs, locate and access information, assess information, organize information, use ICT skills for information processing, communicate information, and make ethical use of information.

These frameworks facilitate messaging to citizens by simplifying things. For instance, as to agreed terminology, DigComp has adopted a device-agnostic wording of “digital technologies” so that it is not necessary to name a specific technology, software or application when further discussing the knowledge, skills and attitudes associated with each of the competences. The term “digital technologies” encompasses not only the use of personal computers such as desktop, laptop, netbook or tablet computer but also other hand-held devices such as  smart phones, wearable devices with mobile networking facilities, games consoles, media players or e-book readers which, more often than not, are also networked or connected to the Internet.

This allows for “future proofing” the framework against the fast speed of change in the field of technologies, while at the same time remaining device and application neutral, and only focusing on high-level competences that are deemed important (rather than being device-or application-specific). (Source: ITU Digital Skills Insights 2019)

I envy young people today for having so much time and resources in their hands to learn new skills. Knowledge today is so ubiquitous and accessible. We just need to get our acts together. We need digital strategy and a digital reference framework for citizens as soon as possible.

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Responding to Greta


Sixteen-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg has become an overnight name for saying what other environmental activists failed to strongly say to our leaders – shut up and show it.

For decades, our leaders have designed all sorts of policies, treatises and pacts to mitigate the impact of and adopt measures in response to climate change, but human consumption has ballooned to tremendous proportions and capitalists have profited much from this phenomenon. Greta and the rest of teenagers today across the globe has every right to demand for a cleaner, healthier, and sustainable future.    

My response to Greta came early as ten years ago by authoring City Ordinance No. 504, an ordinance creating climate change mitigation and adaptation programs of Bacolod City and calls for the creation of a Bacolod Network on Climate Change (BNCC) composed of representatives from different sectors. The ordinance calls for vulnerability and adaptation (V&A) assessment of current and future climate risks and coping measures and mechanisms adopted by local communities.

I am sharing the disruptive features of the ordinance because it calls for leaving our comfort zones. It moves us to adopt sustainable and organic agriculture, forest resource and biodiversity conservation, and ecological waste management focused on reduction, recycling, and re-use of city wastes. It calls for a dynamic coastal resource management through a participatory process of planning, implementing and monitoring sustainable uses of coastal resources.

It mandaes sustainable energy development, energy conservation and efficiency as well as sustainable transportation and the promotion of environment-friendly modes of transportation covering land, water and air. 

The city shall come up with an annual energy efficiency targets that addresses the demand-side efficiency improvements, energy conservation, and use of energy efficient technologies. There shall also be regular traffic improvement schemes, geared towards the development and use of efficient mass transport systems, non-motorized transport modes and provisions of infrastructure such as “bike lanes” and “no-vehicles allowed areas”, emission control schemes focusing on improved fuel and vehicle efficiency, parking facilities development by public and private sector and improvement of road markings and signages, as well as, intersection control. 

Industries shall be encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures, promotion of energy conservation and use of alternative non-CO2 emitting industrial processes; and to use and develop of renewable and alternative energy such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro. The Office of the Building Official shall encourage energy-efficient designs for new buildings. 

The city shall prioritize public sanitation including preserving quality of water, land and air in relation to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on health. The city’s environment and natural resources officer (ENRO) shall actively conduct information dissemination to barangays on the effects of or destruction caused by climate change upon beaches, reefs and coastal infrastructure; importance of water conservation in order to address the threat of decreasing quantity and quality of drinking water due to climate change; as well as preparatory measures in cases of calamities or enhancement of disaster management capacity in times extreme weather events and serious need for humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters. 

In agriculture and fisheries, the city shall promote research and extension work on climate change adaptation thru local research institutions, the academe and relevant stakeholders.

The city shall provide for resources for the integration of lessons about climate change and global warming in all educational institutions and promote dialogues between workers and employers to promote green and decent jobs.

My entry to politics in 2004 was prompted by my advocacies, including environmental conservation and so I am grateful for gaining deeper knowledge about ecological preservation. I was able to fulfill my dream to do something for Mother Earth in my role as a policymaker.  But I am sad for Greta because many policies remain in paper. I am hoping Greta’s generation will win this time. In her words, we need to inform ourselves of the situation because the politics needed to push it does not exist today.

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Breaking New Grounds


In order to change an existing paradigm, you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. Innovators, disrupters and changemakers would be likely familiar with these thoughts of American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist Richard Buckminster Fuller. Change has become more constantly imperative than ever before in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

My weekly column will be all about change, innovation, and disruption, hence, the column title.  In the debate whether one is divergent or convergent, I chose to be disruptive. Traditionally, calling someone or something disruptive is not a compliment until fairly recently when key influencers began to use the term as another word for innovative, trail-blazing, pioneering or ground-breaking to describe a person, company, an idea or technology that changes the way an industry operates. Large companies now have chief disruption officers and young people are now encouraged to learn about disruptive technologies.

In business, a disruptive innovation as defined by Clayton Christensen in 1995 is innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. 

I am excited to share insights on many things affecting our community aligned with how we can leverage on disruptive innovation and technologies. Our communities need to transcend the never-ending discussions around traditional ways of doing things. Today, we are more connected than ever before though the Internet, exponentially increasing the range of sharing ideas and mechanisms for social, economic and over-all human development.

Disruptive technologies will continue to affect every aspect of human life. From education to business to governance, innovation is like a beacon that pulls the early transformers as late adopters fall by the wayside. Innovation connects all sectors and makes collaboration imperative for survival.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Digital Skills Insights 2019 citing the World Economic Forum 2018 stresses that by 2020, 85 to 90 percent of jobs will require ICT skills.

We need to close the skills gap or the phenomenon where millions of jobs are opening up around the world for those with advanced digital skills in the midst of a shortage of qualified people to fill the positions.

The ITU encourages all countries to create digital skills strategies to effectively move a significant portion of its workforce from having basic to advanced skills to be competitive with other economies.

In its latest Digital Skills Insights for 2019, the ITU Academy identified five skills groups to guide planners.

Basic digital skills are required for nearly all jobs, or those related to the effective use of technology, like web research, online communication, use of professional online platforms and digital financial services.

Mid-level digital skills include digital graphic design and marketing, desktop publishing and social media management, both for job and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Advanced digital skills are necessary to create, manage, test and analyze ICT processes, or related to technology development, including coding, software and app development, network management, machine learning, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity and blockchain technology

Soft skills are complementary to technical skills, necessary for all professionals to ensure collaborative in the digital economy, such as leadership, communication, teamwork and client focus, among other qualities.

Digital entrepreneurship or digital skills required by entrepreneurs, include online market research, strategic planning and business analysis, using financing and crowdfunding platforms, online marketing, online networking and establishing mentoring relationships.

Without clear and specific direction, but mostly reactive measures, any country, or city will continuously lose its talent to other countries or cities that have strategic roadmaps for growth. Thus, the need to disrupt traditional way of doing things. With this maiden column, let’s break new grounds for Bacolod and the rest of the countryside.

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