The newly appointed Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines, Dr. Selva Ramachandran, joined Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister of Interior and Local Government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), in launching the Localizing E-Governance for Accelerated Provision of Services (LeAPS) initiative in the two pilot municipalities of Butig and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur.
A collaboration between MILG and UNDP, LeAPS is geared towards transforming local governance in BARMM by significantly accelerating connectivity in communities and enabling citizens to capitalize on the benefits of digitalization and capacity-building through improved access to services and information, community enterprise development, and skills development.
During the launch, Dr. Ramachandran cited UNDP’s continued commitment in forging a strong partnership with BARMM and emphasized the crucial role of simplifying the delivery of essential services through digital technology.
“Digital gains can help especially in areas that are left behind. BARMM can certainly benefit from digitalization because it cuts across societies and brings the citizens’ input into the whole development arena. Digitalization will bring BARMM to the next level and be on par with the rest of the country,” said Dr. Ramachandran.
In turn, Minister Atty. Sinarimbo acknowledged the determination of the new UNDP Resident Representative to come to BARMM amidst the threat of the pandemic, as well as the timeliness of the digitalization of basic services.
Atty. Sinarimbo noted that “LeAPS is an attempt to pole vault governance in the region into the next level of governance by utilizing technology so that we can bring the services of the government closer to our people. At the same time, we allow government to simplify services for the people. Thus, the future for the Bangsamoro is really towards digital services.”
LeAPS will have the municipalities of Butig and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur as pilot areas. Under the initiative, digital centers will be established in these two areas as one-stop shops where citizens can easily access public information or transact through provision of various frontline services - such as passport application, birth certificate registration, labor registration, mobile banking, utility service, bus/airline ticketing, school admission application, job application, among others.
Butig Vice Mayor Sittie Aisa Lucman Pansar expressed that LeAPS “will be a great help to the people because we don’t have to go to Marawi or anywhere else to get birth certificates and other basic services.”
Piagapo Vice Mayor Ali L. Sumandar sees the entry of LeAPS in his municipality as necessary. He stated that “LeAPS will help all of us access modernization. This is inevitable as we all want to have better lives and better governance.”
Piagapo has been classified as a 4th class municipality, while Butig is a 6th class municipality.
LeAPS is informed by experiential learning and insights from the Government of Bangladesh’s Access to Information (a2i) program, but is adapted to the specific socio-cultural and economic context of the Bangsamoro region. Bangladesh's a2i had similar starting challenges with BARMM like poor connectivity and local governance in remote, rural locations. A2i has already achieved a recognized status as a leading global program that has dramatically improved citizens access to services and information, and expanded opportunities for community participation at the local level.
Through LeAPS, UNDP and MILG will work together for the bigger goal of improving local governance and public service delivery in the Bangsamoro region.