Note: This piece is written for the DSWD FO CAR’s  120th Philippine Civil Service Month Celebration Essay Writing Contest with the theme: Philippine Civil Service @ 120: Public Sector in the Age of Digital Transformation.  This piece written by Danika Marie L. Castil placed 3rd.


Just when we thought that this pandemic has slowed down our lives, it gave us a fresh perspective at how life could be in this modern age. Telemedicine, online classes, virtual events, digital payments, and more technological advancements has creatively emerged during this rough time. And the challenge is, the public sector plays an important role in providing a helping hand for the Filipinos to embrace these changes and to remotely connect to the services.

As pointed out by Jamie Notter, “Innovation is change that unlocks new value.” The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need to explore and invest in new approaches to add value to public service. For instance, to decongest the hospitals and to limit the entry of people not needing urgent assistance, some medical services are now available online. Distance learning system is also being considered the safest option for students as they learn virtually through use of gadgets at home. Virtual events through video conference has been the alternative to social gatherings, or at least, the size of an event is being observed based on existing community quarantine regulations. Cash aid distribution using digital payment is being used to manage the physical distancing in giving out the relief. Online platforms are also being widely used nowadays to give Filipinos the access to information.

Digital transformation by the public sector means reimagining and rebuilding its processes to offer more effective service to the people. It is understanding technology and leveraging on it. Moreover, engaging in digital transformation means adding value to service, starting from its internal operations, and channeling it to the public. If the public sector do not give attention to this position, the Filipinos will be left confused and clueless in finding means on how to survive the pandemic.

However, despite the effort and innovations by the government in alleviating the life of the people affected by the pandemic, it cannot be avoided that there would be those who wouldn’t be able to keep pace with these changes. Let’s all agree that not all Filipinos have equal resources pre-pandemic and their lives have gotten worse during this crisis. Take for example the viral news about a parent who sells his artworks on the streetside to buy a gadget for his child’s education, or those students climbing trees just to get a good internet signal for their online classes. In this situation where surviving is the way of living, some people are being left behind.

The challenges of digital transformation are not just about technology but more about the people, the recipients of this change. Real transformation is taking advantage of technology and using it to create better services efficiently. Real transformation is when the public sector look beyond innovations and see how it can better help the disadvantaged. The pandemic is surprising us overwhelmingly— it slows down our lives yet new technology are being introduced. But is this pandemic just forcing us to take a fast leap to transformation? ###

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