The Estrada administration is embarking on a P3 billion computerization program geared to rev up the delivery of basic services by local government units (LGUs), and to safeguard their computer systems from the feared ill effects of the so-called Y2K or "millennium bug" problem come year 2000.
Undersecretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government said the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has committed P1 billion for the speedy implementation of the DILG's "computer-based Year 2000 program."
Speaking at the recent 2nd Global Y2K Summit, Puno said this P1 billion financial assistance from the DBP "will be used to purchase computer hardware and software for use in priority areas where over 900 hospitals dependent on water and sewerage services provided by LGUs are located."
The DILG undersecretary at the same time appealed to the private sector "to lend their expertise" to LGUs so that local governments could upgrade the skills of their information technology (IT) personnel in girding for the millennium bug.
President Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada, who is concurrent DILG secretary," earlier named Amable Aguiluz V as head of the Presidential Commission on Year 2000 Compliance, which oversees anti-Y2K preparations of both government and private sectors. Aguiluz is also presidential adviser on IT and computer education.
Puno said the P1 billion DBP fund is actually "part of a P3 billion local government development fund the DILG proposed to the DBP."
The rest of the amount will be used, he said, "to restart programs at the local government level" such as those on "the promotion on agriculture, road-building and revenue generation."
Puno said a portion of the amount will likewise be used by the DILG to "prepare LGUs in handling the so-called millennium bug so as not to disrupt basic social services such as health, telecommunications and utilities."
"LGUs face a severe lack of technical personnel capable of coming up with a comprehensive or tailor-made solution to problems that may arise as an offshoot of the millennium bug problem," he said.
The DILG should thus be on "alert mode," Puno added, because the Y2K problem is a matter of serious concern, "as a failure in the delivery of social services may result in the disruption of civil order and safety."
Puno pointed out that "a massive information drive must be undertaken by the DILG and concerned agencies at the barangay level as we cannot underestimate the Y2K problem.
Because of a built-in flaw in old computers -- these units were programmed to encode only the last two digits of any given year -- fears have been raised that the systems may mistake 2000 for 1900 come Jan. 1 next year.
Experts fret that this scenario may have disastrous effects on critical operations heavily dependent on computer systems, such as those of the aviation, banking and telecommunications sectors.
WIRED! Philippines is a monthly online magazine published and hosted by KabayanCentral.com
Copyright 1999 KabayanCentral.com. All rights reserved.