Remarks at DATA.GOV.PH Hackathon: #KabantayNgBayan
12/F SaDoce, Smart Tower 1, 6799 Ayala Ave., Makati
by Manuel L. Quezon III
This has been a very busy and heartbreaking time for everyone. All of us here have seen whether through video or picture, or have heard from the news or a personal acquaintance, the extent of the damage brought about by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
For us in the Official Gazette team, we have been working round the clock, even before Yolanda arrived, to make sure that timely and relevant information is provided to the wider public. In time for the typhoon, a special page was set up on the Official Gazette, which makes available to the public the most updated information about the relief efforts of government, lists of casualties, and contact details and social network accounts of service agencies like the DSWD. And might I take this chance to invite you to visit this special page to know more about what government is doing and how you can, in your own way, contribute in helping our affected countrymen get back on their feet. You may view the page at: http://www.gov.ph/crisis-
I bring this up because the Official Gazette, under the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, together with the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, has continuously worked to redefine the manner and frequency of how the government in general provides information to the public– a public that is both anxious and bursting with energy to help and participate.
We in the Aquino administration believe that it is by making information available through an efficient and open platform that we empower the public to participate in advancing transparency and be partners in making good governance the norm. This is the reason we launched the Official Gazette in 2010, and the very reason we are working to establish a National Government Portal, which will serve as the premier gateway of information of the Philippine government. This is the reason behind Open Data Philippines (data.gov.ph), which we are working on with the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Science and Technology-Advance Sciences Technological Institute and the DOST Information Communication Technology Office, and with our external partner the World Bank. We thank everyone who has committed themselves to this meaningful cause. We are one in the belief that transparency and openness inspire action.
Just as innovation inspires action, we know that useful and relevant information can be beneficial especially in times of catastrophe. This is why the Official Gazette, even prior to Yolanda’s coming to our country, has been finding ways to make sure that much needed data– whether these be briefers about natural disasters, infographics and photos of our relief efforts, or call for volunteers– can be accessed and shared by Internet users who are determined to help those in need.
Just as there are those who try to spread rumors and malice at this time of tragedy, there are also others who are using their skills, time, and resources to solve real life problems, people like you– developers, programmers, and computer experts. For the past two days, all of you here have been doing just that: solving problems, developing programs and making information useful for the wider public. Perhaps you are doing this out of the goodness of your hearts, or are encouraged by the prizes which have bolstered your morale, but I am certain that the programs and systems developed here have one endpoint: to efficiently serve our countrymen and to improve the very way we manage and make available information, information which perhaps can at the end of the day save lives.
Whether you are in for the glory or the money, whether you are here for the cause or simply interested in exploring the limits of information management and technology, all of you need to be given credit for your contributions in advancing open and efficient governance. On this note, I extend my congratulations to all the participants and organizers of the data.gov.ph hackathon. We hope to see you in similar events again–or even online, as government continues to expand its presence.
Thank you, and good day.