Through a virtual ceremony on Monday, 31 May, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), formally handed over very small aperture technology (VSAT) facilities to the local chief executives of Butig and Piagapo, Lanao del Sur—the two pilot sites of the LeAPS Program of MILG and UNDP.
The VSAT facilities are part of the Localizing e-Governance for the Accelerated Provision of Services (LeAPS) Program of the MILG and UNDP. Implemented in 2020, LeAPS aims to provide digital solutions to respond to the gaps in public service delivery in the Moro region of Mindanao. With the VSAT facilities, the municipal governments of Butig and Piagapo can now enjoy faster and reliable internet service, enabling them to communicate better and access information faster. Employees at Butig’s municipal hall rejoiced that they no longer have to travel to Cagayan de Oro City only to access official emails and transact government business online.
Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar and Vice-Mayor Sittie Aisah Pansar, and Piagapo Mayor Cadidia Lininding and Vice-Mayor Ali Sumandar received the VSAT facilities in a virtual handover. The local chief executives were excited to join the event, with their first online conference meeting made possible by the newly facilities in their municipal halls.
MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo and UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, along with the TWG of the LeAPS project, attended the virtual handover. Dr. Ramachandran expressed that he is happy that he is now seeing the turn-over of VSAT facilities, calling it “a milestone in the digitalization of BARMM.” He emphasized that digitalization will not only accelerate access to basic public services but will also bring the government closer to the people.
MILG Minister Sinarimbo calls the handover event a “foreshadowing of the future of governance with technology facilitating and enhancing service delivery in every corner of BARMM” and proudly noted that “the dream for a digital Bangsamoro is slowly but surely becoming a reality, the dream for better services for the Bangsamoro people is also becoming a reality.”
Mayor Dimnatang Pansar of Butig expressed gratitude to MILG and UNDP for the establishment of the VSAT facilities in his municipality that has constantly struggled to improve its delivery of public services.
Vice Mayor Ali Sumandar, who led the municipality of Piagapo to earn the DILG Seal of Good Local Governance in 2017, related that during his first term as a mayor in 2013 one of his first projects was acquiring internet connectivity noting its implication for better governance.
The handover’s broadcast at the two municipal halls was the first official activity of both local government units using the newly installed VSAT facilities. Both sites will now prepare for the creation of digital centers in their municipal halls this year.
LeAPS is a project of the MILG supported by the UNDP geared towards the transformation in local governance in BARMM by opening up governance, enabling citizens to capitalize on the benefits of improved access to services and information, community enterprise development, and skills development.
The full roll-out of the LeAPS Program will include 10 BARMM ministries and 10 municipalities in 2021 as part of the realization of the #DigitalBangsamoro roadmap.