Computerization caught up with all 37 barangays in Quezon City?s District 1 before Christmas. And the benefits of electronic governance became available to some 400,000 residents there when public service resumed in the New Year after the long holiday break.
Quezon City thus booked another milestone in local governance with the launching by Councilor Ricardo ?RJ? Belmonte of the first ever district-wide Barangay e-Governance System (BeGS) last December 17.
Councilor Belmonte is the nephew of Quezon City Mayor Feliciano ?Sonny? Belmonte who began the computerization of City Hall when he was first elected to the position in 2001.
The e-Governance he launched has earned for Quezon City the distinction of being the country?s richest local government unit for the last seven years, with record tax and revenue collections of P9.4 billion in 2008, up P1 billion from P8.4 billion in 2007.
The initiatives of the two Belmontes to have Quezon City running fully on e-Governance would complete their vision of converting the Capitol into the country?s first cyber city with District 1 showing the way in processing e-Governance at the grassroots level.
Councilor Belmonte presented his Christmas gift to his constituents at ceremonies held at the Walter Mart in Munoz, Quezon City. He told the more than 200 barangay officials and staff who came to the launch that his project seeks to facilitate transactions at the barangay level by the sensible use of technology.
He said the BeGS would provide services ranging from automated issuance of forms such as barangay clearances to the computerization of all records such as financial transactions, inventory of supplies and equipment, and peace and order council proceedings.
The net benefit, he pointed out, would be a fast, effective and responsive system of governance, adding that the district-wide project complements the e-Governance system installed by his uncle at City Hall, which, he said, is one of the lasting legacies of the nine-year tenure of Mayor Belmonte.
The mayor was the guest of honor in the BeGS inaugural program that began at 8:00 pm with a dance presentation of ?Amazing Grace? by a troupe from San Francisco High School that served as the Invocation, which they followed up with a tableau to dramatize the national anthem.
After the formal presentation of the project Mayor Belmonte gave a short address. He recalled that the first problem he tackled when he was first elected as mayor was the long lines of people waiting to transact business at City Hall, especially during the annual tax filing deadline.
He said he immediately ordered a study and subsequently implemented the computerization of all transactions. The following year, he said, the long lines were gone and, today, the Quezon City Hall is fully computerized.
Mayor Belmonte hailed the vision of Councilor RJ who, he said, saved all his project allocations from the start of his tenure in 2007 to fund the district-wide computerization of barangay transactions. The mayor also declared his full support for the project and pledged to fill any shortfalls in funding, noting that District 1?s comprehensive coverage requires a lot of money.
In ending, Mayor Belmonte observed that the BeGS project was worthy of emulation and said he would ask the City Council to look at the feasibility of its city-wide implementation so that transactions in all the 143 barangays in QC would be computerized.
When the city-wide Barangay e-Governance System is in place, he said, the final step would be to hook it up to the City Hall e-Governance system. Quezon City would thus become the country?s first cyber city, he added.
The technical aspect of the launch followed. Steve Eclarin of Stegra Trading Co, the developer of the BeGS program, gave an overview of the different components and range of capabilities of the e-governance system to be installed in District 1.
The highlight of his presentation was a live demonstration of how the program could monitor SMS text messages from residents with registered cell phones and automatically broadcast the text messages to alert the concerned barangay officers and staff for immediate response in emergency cases such as fires and burglaries.
Eclarin then fielded and answered questions that further clarified the wide range and versatility of the BeGS program. The interaction gave barangay officials the opportunity to express their appreciation of the project and to thank Councilor RJ for his efforts to bring the benefits of Quezon City?s development to the barangay level.
The launching of the first ever District-wide Barangay e-Governance System ended with a Christmas dinner at the ground floor of Walter Mart catered by Max?s Restaurant.
The affair, coordinated by Kapatiran para sa Kinabukasan Foundation, was supported by Walter Mart, which donated the use of Cinema 1 and the dinner area, and Epson, which donated the use of their top of the line LCD multimedia projector.