Press Release
December 6, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara has urged the government to prioritize the improvement of the country's Internet service in a bid to develop local e-commerce industry and help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) penetrate the global market.

"I think e-commerce is one sector beaming with potential which we have yet to tap. We are known to be big users of social media and given the amount of time we spend on the web, Filipinos will no doubt embrace online shopping," Angara said.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), local buy and sell transactions coursed through the Internet were valued at $1 billion last year, and is expected to double this year.

E-commerce was identified by APEC economic leaders as one of the key strategies that will empower and help MSMEs participate in global commerce.

During the APEC Summit, Alibaba billionaire founder Jack Ma shared how China's e-commerce grew fast. "When I talked to venture capitalists before, they said 'no, e-commerce won't work for China because infrastructure is too bad.' But when Internet came, we made the infrastructure really work and sophisticated. For many, e-commerce is just a dessert. In China, it is the main course," Ma said.

The senator lamented the country's poor Internet connection based on a 2015 study by Internet performance data provider Ookla, which showed that the Philippines has the second-slowest download speed among 22 countries in Asia, next to Afghanistan.

The Philippines, with an average of 3.64 megabit per second (mbps), which is way below the average broadband speed of 23.3 mbps, was ranked 176th out of 202 countries in the world. Aside from being one of the slowest, Internet in the Philippines also emerged as one of the most expensive (61st), with an average value of $18.19 per mbps, exceeding the average global cost of $5.21.

To improve the country's Internet service, the National Telecommunications Commission has signed this year a memorandum setting the minimum broadband speed at 256 kbps and mandated service providers to disclose to the public their average data rates per location.

"According to several tech groups, this minimum requirement is still low if we want to catch up with the rest of the world in this fast-paced digital age. It is high time for us to create a separate body that would focus, provide adequate support and ensure that innovations in information and communications technology (ICT) would contribute to global competitiveness," said Angara, who is also urging the government to fast track the implementation of the national broadband plan.

The lawmaker has filed a bill that seeks to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology which will be mandated to promote wider use and development of ICT and its applications such as e-commerce to enhance the competitiveness of Filipino workers, firms and MSMEs in the global ICT market.

"We were recently dubbed as one of the hottest e-commerce markets in the region. We should take advantage of this momentum and improve our technology and digital infrastructure to better facilitate the ease of doing online business and cashless payment in the country," he added.

Given the huge potential of e-commerce and its significant contribution to the local economy, the DTI has committed to launch in December an E-Commerce 2020 Roadmap, which would serve as the sector's blueprint, containing the targets and key strategies to boost growth and help e-commerce make up a quarter of the country's gross domestic product by 2020.

"If we were able to boost our Internet connectivity to up to 8.5 gigabits per second in select venues during the APEC Summit, I hope we can do the same for the development of our e-commerce industry. The DTI said its roadmap aims to engage at least 100,000 MSMEs and 30 percent of our population in online businesses. This would not be possible without a reliable Internet service," Angara concluded.

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