Digital government services can help close Philippines’ rural-urban gap – Yesly Corazon Jaen, DICT #FOI2024

By Si Ying Thian

Top priorities for the Philippines include closing the rural-urban gap for citizen services, and strengthening cybersecurity measures to maintain public trust in the digital government, says Yesly Corazon Jaen with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Ahead of GovInsider's FOI 2024 happening later this month, we spoke to Yesly Corazon Jaen with the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) to find out what's next for the Philippines' digital government and her impact as a public sector official. Image: Canva.

Digital government services in the Philippines will soon become more accessible to citizens all over the country.


Ahead of GovInsider’s Festival of Innovation (FOI) 2024 happening later this month, we spoke to Yesly Corazon Jaen, Head of Internal Audit Service with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), on the most promising opportunities for the Philippines’ digital government and the impact she is making as a public sector official.


“Looking ahead, I see Philippines making strides in making digital public services more accessible for citizens across the nation, including those in geographically isolated and disadvantageous areas,” says Jaen.


With the aim of closing the rural-urban gap, DICT is streamlining the application, licensing, and certification processes for citizen services, such as tax payments, health sciences and public information access.


Philippines' digital national ID, which serviced more than 110 million people in the country, won the open-source application at UNDP's Future of Government Awards. Image: PhilSys.

GovInsider earlier reported the results of UNDP’s Future of Government 2023 awards, where the Philippines emerged as one of the winners. Receiving an award for its open-source application was the team behind the digital national ID system, PhilSys, which serviced more than 110 million people across thousands of islands in the Philippines.


To maintain public trust in digital government initiatives, the Philippines also needs to do more when it comes to strengthening cybersecurity and data privacy measures, Jaen adds.


“Prioritising cybersecurity infrastructure, implementing strong data protection measures, and raising public awareness about cybersecurity best practices are essential for safeguarding citizens’ data,” she explains.

The “risk manager” behind Philippines’ digital government


DICT heads the country’s agenda for ICT development, and Jaen leads the role as an internal auditor to advise DICT’s Secretary on whether internal controls are complying with legal requirements, managerial policies, accountability measures, ethical standards and contractual obligations.


Her role advocates for a risk-based approach in management planning for all e-government systems and applications in the Philippines.


Key components of the Philippines' E-government masterplan. Image: DICT. 

She is also responsible for streamlining the processes across different government ICT resources and networks into an integrated framework that helps enable broader country masterplans, such as the E-Government Masterplan, Philippine Development Plan, and the National ICT Development Agenda.


Despite being the “risk manager,” a key lesson Jaen has picked up over the years is the importance of having a greater risk tolerance, and the ability to admit and learn from one’s mistakes.


“These traits enhance public sector organisations’ ability to respond to citizens' evolving needs and offer meaningful solutions to complex issues,” she says.


Another key lesson is the need for governments to partner with the industry and citizens in co-creating solutions.


“In doing so, citizens need to be involved in these projects to create a sense of ownership and partnership in nation-building. Leaders need to proactively support and encourage citizen endeavours for innovation.”

Emerging tech key to building smart cities in the Philippines


Blockchain technology and financial technology (FinTech) were among some of the emerging technologies Jaen believes will shape the smart city vision in the Philippines.


There is a wide acceptance of blockchain technology in various industries, and the technology has been proven to improve trust, efficiency and transparency of processes, Jaen says.


She emphasises the need for governments to partner with the industry in yielding favourable outcomes for both the economy and society.


Digital banking services would also have a greater impact on Philippines, given the significant number of its citizens working abroad.


GovInsider earlier covered the partnership between Philippines’ central bank and a non-profit partner in making digital payments as inclusive and easy as possible.


Other emerging technologies, she shares, include AI largely used for customer support and streamlined operations, IoT sensors used for environmental monitoring in agriculture, augmented and virtual reality that are used for educational and audience engagement.



Catch Yesly Corazon Jaen at FOI 2024 that is happening from 26 – 27 March 2024, at Sands Expo, Singapore. She will be speaking in two sessions:


  1. Day 2’s opening plenary panel titled “Why are We Holding on to Legacy Systems?”
  2. Day 2’s panel titled “Evolution of Digital Identity Panel: Overcoming Roadblocks to Secure Authentication for Citizens”


Register here >>>