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'Better Normal' bill to help businesses, schools post-COVID-19 through improved ICT —Defensor

The "Better Normal" bill being deliberated in the House of Representatives is expected to help schools and businesses efficiently operate in a post-COVID-19 scenario by improving the country's information and technology (ICT) systems and Internet connectivity.

This was according to Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor, one of the authors of House Bill 6864, or the proposed Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020, which the House already approved on second reading.

In a Dobol B sa News TV interview on Sunday, Defensor said that aside from mandating the practice of minimum health standards such as wearing face masks and observing social distancing, the measure also puts to task the Department of Information and Communications Technology to strengthen the country's ICT systems.

"'Yung pagpapalakas sa DICT, talagang inatasan sa batas na ito na ayusin na 'yung pag-aayos dito sa ating online, maging sa pag-aaral, sa negosyo," he said.

Defensor said that with improved ICT systems, Internet connectivity will be more available to the public where small and medium enterprises can put their items for sale. Hence, the public will no longer have to go outside to buy their basic necessities.

"Malaking bagay ito sa ating mga negosyante lalo sa small and medium enterprise. Bakit? Kasi puwede ka nang hindi pumunta sa mall na mag-renta ka ng isang lugar na maaaring hindi mo kayanin dahil mahal," he said.

"Ma-display mo lang sa Internet ang iyong produkto, makita ng tao, tapos may mga delivery system sila, maganda na. So marami tayong maliliit na negosyante ang talagang matutulungan nito," Defensor added.

At the same time, better Internet connectivity will allow for the conduct of virtual modes of learning, even in remote and far-flung areas of the country, Defensor said.

"Ang isang malaking-malaking bagay, 'yung pag-aaral. Kasi sa ibang bansa nga, noong sinabing walang pasok, ang bilis, agad-agad nakapasok sila sa Internet, nag-ayos agad sila," he said.

"Sa atin, hindi pa ganoon kalaganap. Sa Metro Manila maaaring maganda na ang Internet connection, 'yung e-learning na tinatawag, pero sa maraming probinsiya, hindi pa ganoon. So ito ang sinasabi ng batas, palakasin natin ito," the lawmaker added.

Apart from improving the country's ICT systems, the bill also provides other measures to ensure the practice of social distancing, such as proposing for a cashless system in public transportation and in businesses, Defensor said.

The bill likewise mandates the management of work spaces in both public and private offices so that social distancing and minimum health standards may be practiced, he added.

"Long-term din talaga 'yung gusto ng batas na ito. Marami nang bagay na maitutulak natin, maitutulak ng mga gobyerno na mga programa na maaari nating magamit pagdating ng panahon," he added. 

Following the approval on second reading, the measure will only need the third and final approval of the House before it could be sent to the Senate for its own deliberations. —Erwin Colcol/KG, GMA News