Heads and members of delegations representing Member States of the Union, Colleagues in the ICT sector, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant day to you all.
On behalf of the Republic of the Philippines and our Delegation, allow me to express our sincere gratitude to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), its Members, and this year's host - the Government of the Republic of Korea, for the opportunity to meet and discuss how we, collectively, shall move forward during the next four years with the best interest of our beloved Union and its Members at heart. As the elections of a new management team this PP-14 nears, let me take this opportunity to thank Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, and the three Bureau Directors for their cohesiveness, great efforts and sacrifices that produced fruitful results during the last eight years for which we indeed are all blessed.
ICT is, without a doubt, an enabler for national and global economic growth and social development. ICT has transformed our governments and businesses in ways we could not have imagined some 30 years ago. But most significantly it has transformed our peoples, our children most of all, and woven itself into the fabric of our lives.
While the Philippines was one of the first to liberalize its telecommunication industry that is now rapidly deploying 4th generation mobile technology and laying new optical fiber both domestic and to our neighbors, with spending for e-Government increased fourfold in recent years and a national Free Wi-Fi project to start next year in the poorest half of our country's towns, with Cybercrime Prevention and Data Privacy legislation enacted, and with an ICT-enabled services industry recognized as one of those top tier in the world, we remain fully aware that many of our countrymen are still denied the basic right of access to ICT that this organization has so ardently pursued for nearly 150 years.
Our administration is fully committed to the ideals of the ITU, and has thus redoubled its efforts through innovative multi-stakeholder engagements, expanded public-private-partnerships, and bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation. As an example, the Philippines is currently examining the use of dynamic spectrum allocation, specifically in the underutilized TV bands in anticipation of the spectrum dividend once our soon to start migration to ISDB-T is completed in 2019, though this may necessitate innovation and open-mindedness in the aspect of spectrum governance.
Connecting the unserved areas is not only about economic development, it is also about saving lives. The Philippines, being on the Pacific "ring of fire" and "typhoon belt" is constantly challenged by natural hazards. Recently, we have made much progress in our ability to forecast severe weather and its hazards, using advanced computer modelling, land and space based sensing technologies, including a nationwide network of remote sensors. While only 5-years ago we could only make general forecasts and indicative warnings of life threatening floods and storm surges from severe weather, the Philippines is now able to predict such threats and give warning at least 6-hours in advance. But what is the value of such information if it cannot be communicated to those it intends to aid. Thus, for the Philippines it is of utmost importance that ICT be available to everyone, everywhere.
Mr. Chairman, please allow me thus to offer our sincerest gratitude to the ITU, its members, and the international community, that came to our aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
We therefore urge all members of the Union to continue to cooperate and to exchange best practices, risk management data and research, as well as make available innovative and affordable ICT crucial for disaster risk management.
In closing, we sincerely appeal to all that the Philippines be elected anew as a member of the ITU Council. As before and more so now, we believe we have much to contribute, and commit to serve you again as an active member of the Council.
We also thank the Government of Korea, especially His Excellency Minister Mr. Yang-hee Choi, and you Mr. Chairman for the time and opportunity to see your beautiful country - the scenic City of Busan, and to savor the warm smile and welcome of your lovely people.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.