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Bridging the Digital Divide in the Philippines

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E-centres, often referred to as electronic centres, are essential for introducing digital services and technology to Philippine barangays (villages).

Hence, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed by the Social Security System (SSS) and the local government unit (LGU) of Burgos in the province of Pangasinan for the establishment of SSS E-Centres in its 14 Barangays.

Jose Alvin Altre, the head of SSS Alaminos Branch, thanked LGU Burgos for supporting the “SSS E-Centre sa Barangay” Programme. He mentioned that the majority of SSS transactions can currently be done online.

“However, we are aware that a significant portion of our population has trouble using digital platforms and is compelled to contact an SSS branch office or consult fixers. We can bring SSS services down to the Barangay level with the help of the E-Centre sa Barangay Programme,” Alvin added.

Local residents, he continued, can just go to the barangay hall because it is equipped with the necessary IT tools for them to access the various SSS digital platforms.

Mayor Jesster Allan Valenzuela is thrilled with the advantages the programme will bring to his residents. Also mentioning how much it helps their residents, especially those who come from far-off regions.

Locals typically only visit SSS Alaminos to ask questions or receive assistance from the staff because they are unable to submit their claims online. With the support of the focal point person, whom SSS will train on the numerous SSS online transactions, LGUs believe that this scheme will make it easier and faster for people to complete their transactions.

The MoA requires the SSS to provide orientations, training, and hands-on tutorials to the assigned LGU employees and concerned barangays for them to operate and monitor the E-Centres. SSS must also give timely and meaningful feedback or updates on referrals and queries from partner office representatives.

In addition, participating LGUs and barangays are expected to establish an E-Centre within their respective barangays, complete with the necessary IT logistics and manned by professional personnel.

E-centres are expected to provide the following services: Application for Social Security (SS) Number; registration to the My.SSS Portal via the SSS Website; access to member’s membership records; update contact details; enrol disbursement account through members’ Disbursement Account Enrollment Module (DAEM); apply for salary loan and ConsoLoan, if with past due short-term member loans.

Members’ My.SSS accounts allow users to file numerous benefit claims such as sickness and maternity benefits for self-employed and voluntary members, as well as retirement, burial, disability, and death claims.

E-centres in barangays bring digital connectivity, knowledge, and services closer to people, enabling them to take advantage of the benefits of the digital era and participate more actively in all government initiatives.

Besides, e-centres frequently provide training programmes and courses to help community members improve their digital literacy skills. These projects assist individuals in acquiring necessary computer skills, improving their internet navigation skills, and increasing their employability in the digital age.

By offering access to online government services and platforms, e-centres help e-governance projects. Residents can use the internet to apply for documents, pay bills, submit applications, and access government information, minimising the need for physical trips to government offices.

Further, the government intends to bridge the digital divide by building e-centres in barangays, ensuring that all citizens have access to digital technology and services. E-centres enable marginalised populations to join the digital economy and benefit from its opportunities.

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