(Left-right) Resource Persons at the open forum: Atty. Richard Leo Baldueza (moderator), Engr. Pierre Tito Galla, Mr. Tirso Raymond Gutierrez, Atty. Christine Lovely E. Red-Allego, and Dir. Melchor T. Plabasan

The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), through its Center for Governance – Policy Research Office (CFG-PRO), conducted the fifth and final installment of the 2023 Thursday Talks Lecture Series under the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) program featuring the topic, “Safe and Sound: Protecting Filipinos in a Digital Future” on September 21 at the L.S. Virata Hall, DAP Bldg., Pasig City

The event commenced with a hybrid lecture spearheaded by Engr. Pierre Tito Galla, Cybersecurity Lead of the Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Galla delved into the global landscape of cybersecurity in e-Governance, weaving a compelling narrative around the basic concepts and best practices that can be integrated into the local setting.  A highlight of his discourse was the exploration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework, which aimed to prepare and mitigate against cybersecurity threats.  He also emphasized the pressing need to nurture a pipeline of cybersecurity professionals, not just within the government circles, but across the entire spectrum of society.  

Following this exposition, Mr. Tirso Raymond Gutierrez, representing the Office of the Undersecretary for e-Governance at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), presented the agency’s initiatives, specifically highlighting the eGov PH app –  a digital portal that provides the basic government services in a digitized platform. His remarks were steeped in the principle of citizen-centricity, stressing the paramount importance of a government that is responsive and attuned to the needs of the public. 

The first session was followed by a panel discussion on policies implemented by the private and public sectors in securing the digital financial landscape.

Mr. Melchor T. Plabasan, Senior Director for the Risk and Innovation Supervision Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), wove a narrative around the  agency’s cybersecurity roadmap, which is designed to tackle the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape head-on. Plabasan further underscored the urgency of forging robust collaborations between the banking industry and law enforcement agencies in fostering a holistic approach toin managing cyber-related risks. 

Atty. Christine Lovely E. Red-Allego, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) highlighted the business perspective on mitigating cyber risk, stressing the need for public enlightenment through robust cybersecurity awareness and education programs.  She also unveiled the TrustTech Movement, BPI’s initiative aimed at preserving client trust and shielding them from malicious cyber onslaughts.

The event drew to a close with an engaging open forum, facilitated by House of Representatives Committee Secretary on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Atty. Richard Leo Baldueza.  Attendees posed pertinent questions, ranging from the safeguards surrounding the eGovernance app to considerations for infusing a social protection lens into the banking and finance sector.  The common thread was a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of online account holders from the lurking shadows of cyberattacks . 

In conclusion, this lecture series underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive policy and legislative initiatives.  These are crucial to address the dearth of cybersecurity personnel in the government, bridge the digital divide, and embark on a resolute, whole-of-country approach to fortify cybersecurity in the Philippines

The Thursday Talks is one of the three components of the CBILLS program that aims to broaden the perspectives of participants from the Philippines Congress on the socio-political and economic trends in the country. The livestream of this event can be accessed on the CBILLS Website at https://cbills.dap.edu.ph or through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/DAPCFGPRO. 

Christopher Brian Caiga