Digital citizen engagement

The age of digital has transformed the way many of us engage. For example, what used to be a manual back and forth exercise of letter sending ― i.e., a letter sender, armed with a pen and paper, writes and sends to a recipient, and recipient receives in a matter of days, to which recipient sends a response as well for the letter sender to receive ― has now been condensed, thanks to technology, to minutes, with no limitation on geography and time. Because engagement has become real-time, information can be exchanged more efficiently, thus making the engagement richer and more alive.

The shift of information access to digital has also enabled the citizenry to be empowered as far as decision-making is concerned, given that information can be obtained at our fingertips with just a few clicks away. We are able to decide more quickly and move on with other things. This empowerment similarly forms the kind of conversations and dialogues we can engage in, especially in matters that are important such as health, government policies, education, weather and many others.


The recent announcement of Congress and Senate on the eCongress website is one example of how digital citizen engagement can be optimized: given that information on Congress and Senate activities is consolidated in one portal, the ease of access for us Filipinos becomes an optimized experience as we do not need to go to many sources to retrieve related information. Not only is ease of access addressed but also transparency of information and other relevant matters can now be obtained given this digital move by both lower and upper houses.

This effort aligns with the national digital transformation initiative of the government where the objective is to deliver more efficiently public services to as many Filipinos as possible. We will see more of these from the many different agencies moving forward and while such efforts are laudable, it may require later on a consolidated approach wherein Filipinos can access all services from one portal.


What remains to be important in this initiative is to ensure that Filipinos remain engaged in national matters, and effective information dissemination is key in achieving this. When information is readily available and accessible, educating the citizenry becomes second nature. To sustain this, it is imperative to add the technology aspect and make the experience digital as this addresses the digital natives (a rising segment obviously), and not to mention the real-time value that this engagement brings. The desired outcome then becomes practical and realistic and will also make the model replicable so that other government units or agencies may follow suit.


It is also worthwhile to note that the risk in digital engagement is when the news or item of information obtained is not from verified sources; that is why it is imperative to access information on sources that are fact-checked, lest we process information that may not be factual in the first place.

Similarly, organizations should continue to look for ways and means to foster a richer and more collaborative digital engagement among its employees or communities. Not only will this pave the way for a more productive and cohesive environment, but it will also broaden the many ways in which people engage, outside, of course, the letter sending era.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at