Philippine government releases position on Internet governance; civil society seeks inclusive process
By Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, 28 September 2005
The Philippine Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) formally presented the Philippine government’s position on the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) Report during the Philippine Summit on the Information Society held on September 9, 2005. The position paper was based on the nationwide consultations CICT ran from June to August 2005 at the Manila Hotel.
The Philippine government’s position primarily affirms WGIG’s definition of internet governance and its recommendations on the different issues such as the administration of the root zone files and system, interconnection costs, spam, freedom of expression and data protection and privacy rights, among others.
Moreover, it has favored the establishment of a Global Internet Council — composed mainly of government representatives — to become the body that will decide on Internet governance issues. “The Philippines strongly believes that the Internet, being a ‘global commons’, should be governed by a body/ies representing the interest of the global community of nations,” the position paper read.
The government position also expressed its reservations on having the GIC as a main forum. It cited as potential problems the high participation cost this may entail to ‘developing’ countries; the marginal role given to the private sector and civil society; and the slow process typically associated with any United Nations fora.
APC member Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) executive director Al Alegre pointed out that the consultations were rather limited, that only the last consultation in Davao City had the benefit of discussing the WGIG Report while the rest had as main documents WGIG’s 12 issue papers.
“This is not exactly the position of the Luzon [Manila] and Cebu consultations,” he said.
CICT Commissioner Emmanuel Lallana admitted that the cost and time constraints indeed hindered a more inclusive and comprehensive consultation process. He however assured that organizations may still contribute their inputs “until the very day the report [the Philippine position] has to be submitted.”
In view of the low public awareness on the issues of internet governance, the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), together with other civil society organizations held an information session.
Alegre provided a backgrounder on internet governance at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) while Horacio Cadiz of the Philippine Network Foundation made an in-depth review of the WGIG Report. As an additional input, Aileen Familara of Isis International-Manila discussed the financing mechanism, the other issue scheduled to be resolved during the second phase of WSIS.
“We would like the consultation process to continue not only for Prepcom 3 but even beyond WSIS. These are the kinds of topics citizens should have a say on. At least at the country level, the government should encourage more public participation,” Alegre asserted.
Aside from FMA, the other CSOs that participated were the Advanced Science Foundation, Bayang Pinoy, De la Salle University Institute of Governance, Isis International-Manila, Philippine Greens, Philippine Network Foundation and APC member Women’s Hub.