Philippine Community eCenter Program (PhilCeC Program)
Information and Communications Technology Office - National Computer Center Field Operations Office

The Problem

The Philippine Community eCenter Program is a national digital inclusion program establishing Community eCenters that provide critical ICT, e-government and social services in rural municipalities with minimal or no access to information and government services

The Philippine CeC Program was a response to the widening gap between urban cities and underserved rural communities in terms of access to ICT goods, vital government services, information, knowledge and opportunities for national participation and development.

Furthermore, the program answered the need to unify the diverse and detached CeC-efforts of various CeC initiatives that characterized the CeC landscape in the Philippines in 2007.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Philippine Community eCenter (PhilCeC) Program is a national digital inclusion growth and management program overseen by the Philippines’ Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).

Initiated in 2007, it was to answer the need and challenge of providing all citizens access to ICT goods and services through community eCenters, thereby opening up new opportunities for isolated populations and communities. It was a response to the widening gap between urban cities and underserved rural communities in terms of access to ICT goods, vital government services, information, knowledge and opportunities for national participation and development.

The program, in its 1st generation (2008-2010), envisioned a Community eCenter in each of the country's more than 1,500 municipalities. With more than 1,400 up by 2011, a new roadmap (2011-2016) set its sights on deeper rural penetration- the barangay level-to create more self-reliant communities empowered by access to ICT-driven services.

The program also works to provide local content relevant to user needs, build up CeC-specific skills and competencies, and harmonize all sectors under the program. This allows CeC growth and management in a supportive environment, helping their continued relevance and sustainability.

The program's results have been groundbreaking. It reshaped the Philippine ICT landscape, provided digital opportunities to millions of rural residents, a capability previously available only to urban countrymen. It redefined rural economy dynamics and parameters as farmers, artisans, tradesmen, entrepreneurs, businessmen and service workers went online and engaged in business, market, technology, employment and learning exchanges - discovering ICT's edge in reducing travel, time, communication and other costs in favor of their margins.

It transformed traditional rural education experience as millions of students and teachers previously severely limited by little or no access to knowledge resources discovered the waelth of learning available on the web and instantaneous access to it they now had. Some CeCs are tailored to serve as eSkwela (School) Centers and prioritize education.

Moreover, it revolutionized rural Filipino awareness and perception of the world and technology as rural families communicated more frequently free or at little cost with overseas working kin and strengthened the social fibers of many Filipino family relationships long strained by absence and separation anxieties.

It likewise expanded and redesigned government approaches to service delivery as agencies retooled their systems to accommodate online applications for basic requirements such as birth documents, agency clearances, passport applications, database services, employment forms and webcam interviews, online healthcare, among others.

Finally, it brought together under one umbrella network all individual and distinct telecenter initiatives for the first time, from which was born PhilCECNet – the 500-member Philippine Community eCenter Network – which is now government’s partner in carrying out key telecenter development thrusts. From a disparate and incongruent telecenter landscape wilting from isolation to a focused one-vision interacting and developing telecenter network, guided by a national roadmap, bonded by a common and industry-recognized web portal with a fast-growing online community, and professionally honed by a CeC Academy, the Program was the turning point in the Philippine march to bridge the digital divide.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The task of unifying the plethora of telecentre initiatives in the country under one national initiative was taken on by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), formerly the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Partnerships with key stakeholders from different sectors proved instrumental in the creation of the supporting frameworks essential to the success and sustainability of the program. For example, the support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and, the technical assistance from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the consultation workshops with CeC stakeholder groups in seven cities, resulted in the creation of the first Philippine Community eCenter Roadmap for 2008-2010. This document was particularly instrumental in providing the much-needed traction to unify the diverse telecentre initiatives under one direction and vision.

Similar support likewise was instrumental in the creation of the - Philippine CeC Academy (tPCA), the capability building arm of the program.

The program is also assisted by the Philippine Community eCenter Network (PhilCeCNet), a multi-sectoral organization and learning community of CeC stakeholders. The network was created to contribute to the implementation of the program, harmonize the national CeC efforts, share knowledge and experiences, and achieve commonality of direction and operations for maximum impact.

Currently, the network is composed organizations from different sectors: Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Intel Technology Philippines, the local government of Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, Molave Development Foundation, Inc. (MDFI), and the University of the Philippines – Open University.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The paramount objective of the program continues to be to establish a Community eCenter in every municipality.

Not just CeCs in the generic sense but CeCs that are sustainable, purposive and sensitive to global ICT trends and responsive to local needs by developing CeC-specific skill competencies for CeC knowledge workers and developing local content to encourage community ownership and development.

The program goals are to: 1)establish and strengthen Community eCenters across the country, 2) provide and develop services & content for socio-economic development of communities, 3) ensure availability of competent CeC knowledge workers, 4) provide communities with knowledge to achieve alternative solutions to power, connectivity and technology concerns, and 5) promote the value of the Philippine CeC Program to the growth of self-reliant communities towards earning the support of decision makers, leaders and stakeholders.

The following strategies played a significant role in the continuing success of the program:

Taking a challenge in small doses, tackling small chunks of a large whole. More than 1,500 CeCs in as many towns is monumental; setting it all up in one fell swoop is a surefire way of falling flat on one’s face. A challenge sliced up into digestible chunks is more visible and attainable than embracing the whole overwhelming horizon all at once. In recognition of the challenge, the program was broken down into three implementation phases, and further still, into manageable components. Each component had its own set of annual targets, supporting the overall direction of the program. This approach enabled greater control over resources and more flexibility when adjustments became necessary. It was an exercise in still another form of synergy - the parts working together for the whole.

Knowledge exchange working for national consensus and stimulating unity of purpose. The spark for the Philippine CeC Program and the ensuing Philippine Community eCenter Network was lit by a series of Knowledge Exchange Conferences (KECs) that brought together key people and leaders of various CeC initiatives in sharing CeC experiences and responses. From the KECs sprang the common desire for commonality in purpose and a national sense of belonging to a common cause that promised strength in numbers and sharing.

Building from the bottom. The Philippine CeC Program is proud to claim its grassroots base. The program takes its cues from grassroots feedback, learning from the ground up. Learning is collaborative, made possible through face-to-face and online channels (program portal and online community). Knowledge sharing serves to harmonize the efforts of the program, aligning management strategies with the efforts of grassroots CeC knowledge workers for a seamless approach to challenges and difficulties.

Global perspective, Filipino in spirit. While the telecentre was a global concept, the Philippine CeC Program was Filipino to the core. The program was crafted with the Filipino communities in mind. It fostered adoption of new technologies while encouraging respect for local customs and cultures. As a result, the CeCs gained acceptance within the communities they sought to serve.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
One of the initial steps undertaken to give the Philippine CeC Program a solid foundation was the formulation of the Strategic Roadmap of the Philippine Community eCenter Program for 2008-2010 wherein the directions and goals of the Program over the next two years are charted.

Following the end of the 2008-2010 roadmap timeline, the program formulated the 2011-2016 Strategic Roadmap. This successor roadmap continued where the 2008-2010 roadmap left off, this time with emphasis on digital inclusion for rural barangays and communities.

With the roadmap in place, the next item on the agenda was the establishment and activation of the Philippine CeC Network (PhilCeCNet), the formal organization that brings together all CeCs initiated by different entities under one network with a common vision and direction.

A web portal ( was also created to serve as an online mechanism for knowledge sharing and virtual community gathering of CeC implementers, stakeholders and network leaders in the country and throughout the globe.

In support of the CeC Program thrusts, various other component projects or activities have been lined up, foremost of which is the establishment of the CeC Academy (tPCA), a consortium of capability-building institutions involved in the delivery of ICT for Development and CeC-related training programs.

The tPCA shall “guarantee the availability of highly competent knowledge workers for CeCs through collaboration of institutions unified by a shared purpose to optimize resources and ensure knowledge sharing in order to deliver continuous and relevant capability-building programs, research, certification and advocacy thereby enhancing productivity and sustainability of CeCs in the country.”

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Among the obstacles encountered by the program were: 1) the diversity of local CeC initiatives, 2) the impact of politics on the program, 3) resource mobilization, and 4) CeC sustainability.

Unifying the different CeC models and their organizational mindsets, purposes and mandates, was daunting. The program addressed this challenge by engaging in persistent numerous consultations and bringing together CeC leaders for them to see the value and benefits of a national community that respected individuality but promised support and sustainability under a national program. In the end, leaders of the initiatives themselves called for a national organization and direction. Capping this effort was the creation of the Strategic Roadmap for the Philippine CeC Program which united all CeC initiatives under one national vision.

The establishment and operation of CeCs in municipalities was hinged on active sustained support of municipal mayors who are local chief executives in these towns. Providing facilities and manpower to staff the CeCs, the commitment and quality of support extended by mayors to the program was crucial. The program secured the commitment of more than 1,400 mayors by assiduously orienting them on the benefits of ICT to their communities, showing what the program has achieved in other similar towns, and opening up ownership of the initiative towards achieving the resource and benefit-sharing arrangement formalized by agreements entered into for the establishment and operation of the CeCs.

The program also had to contend with local political changes every 3 years as the helm of local leadership changed hands. The program always plainly showed itself to be apolitical and repeated the process of orientation and persuasion for newly-elected leaders until the desired results were achieved and CeC continuity assured.

Launching and sustaining a national program on the scale of the Philippine CeC Program required government pump-priming to set the stage and generate the initial momentum. But as things progressed, the program had to rely on local counterpart contributions, spirited advocacy, and concrete results that justified the program’s efforts. As more stakeholders joined in, pooling their resources in common effort, the program’s growth, dynamism, and spirit brought in international support organizations that augmented the resource pool and enabled the program to go beyond its initial targets.

The challenge of sustainability was inevitable and continues to be a valid concern. As the program progressed and brought in more members from other CeC initiatives, it was clear that not all CeCs were on the same footing as far as capabilities, personnel, and resources were concerned. It became clear that much of a CeC’s health and dynamism was anchored on the quality and strength of leadership at the CeC level. This was openly made known and the support of for the establishment of the Philippine CeC Academy was a response to the need for capable and committed CeC workers. The Academy now works to produce a CeC workforce dedicated to the cause of ICT-driven community development and equipped with the orientation and skills to effectively operate and manage their CeCs.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Multi-stakeholder participation with players from the government, private sectors and major companies is the program's greatest strength. The needs of the program is supported by resources provided by the government, and its strong network of partners and supporters.

Primarily a government initiative, the program is supported by funds secured from the eGovernment Fund (eGovFund). All activities implemented by the program management office for the different components of the program (establishment and strengthening CeCs, content development, training, advocacy) are supported by this fund.

Support from international funders such as the IDRC and was likewise instrumental and allowed the program to go beyond its initial targets. These external fund support successfully launched key components of the program, including the activation of the Philippine CeC Network, the - Philippine CeC Academy, the program portal ( and the program roadmap.

The support of partners was not limited to financial resources. Through its partnerships and networks, the program gained access to a vast repository of resources, technical support and expertise in various fields, cognizant to the needs of the program. For example, the development of capability building courses and modules is outsourced to the tPCA, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the University of the Philippines Open University. Concerns on media and communication are shared with the network and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), one of the stakeholders of the PhilCeCNet.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The following points contribute to the sustainability of the initiative. Furthermore, demonstrate how the program can serve as a model that can be replicated at the national and international levels:

Knowledge exchange and sharing. Crossing over turf lines of diverse CeC initiatives and initiating the sharing of experiences and lessons derived from individual CeC operations laid the groundwork for the birth of the Philippine Community eCenter Network and the definition of the Philippine CeC Program. When CeC players realized there was much to be gained from a national program and a national organization, the die was cast. In areas where rivalry between CeC initiatives exists to the point that primacy is made an issue, governments may have to come in and point to the Philippine model as a strong case for achieving a national CeC program

Program — Local Chief Executive Partnership. The Philippine program relies to a great extent on the support and sponsorship of local town mayors for the operation of CeCs using local government facilities and personnel. The special bond and agreement between the program and these mayors can serve as a model for areas where local chief executives can be made entry points for CeC operations.

Multi-stakeholder roles and contributions. The Philippine CeC program spread a wide talent and experience net that brought in some of the country’s best and most qualified minds to help the program. It brought in institutions like the Development Academy of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines, and other organizations to ensure the quality of program content and management. It brought in grassroots experts to inculcate in the program an inherent and active appreciation of community-level needs and challenges. It brought in global friends to keep the program attuned to global ICT trends and sensitive to global resource opportunities and networking. From the bottom to the top, the program was infused with the help of many stakeholders that ensured its strength and relevance, and pushed the achievement of its results.

Special program focus groups. While the program casts its net wide to bring in as many communities and people within the envelop of digital inclusion, it also prioritizes content for vulnerable groups, especially children, women and senior citizens. This endears the program to communities and cause-oriented groups with the potential for greater participation and resource-sharing. In 2011, the program, along with its partners, launched the Philippine Digital Literacy for Women Campaign which endeavored to train and make 10,000 grassroots women digitally literate. Close to 15% of the target population has been trained.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The approach of unifying and converging government and private sectors as well as key international support companies into a common effort is not exactly novel. But succeeding on a national scale is a rarity. And achieving that rarity is on par with the satisfaction of seeing innovation work.

The Philippine CeC movement's greatest strength lies in its multi-stakeholder participation, with players from both government and private sectors working together and major companies like Intel and Microsoft pouring in support. This participation has been keen, showcased in the preparation of the program roadmap, the formation of PhilCeCNet, and the establishment of a consortium of leading capability building insitutions in the country.

Why such an approach was needed? To ensure that the usual stumbling block of inadequate funds to push such a large-scale program to full fruition would be effectively eliminated. Despite the immense scale of the PCeC program, it was broken down into different component thrusts. In the end, the approach achieved the pooling of resources for a higher common goal.

The benefits of the Philippine CeC Program are far-reaching and cross the lines. They go beyond classification as government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-government (G2G) as well as government-to-business (G2B) and business-to-citizens (B2C). An attempt at classification, however, will show this:

• G2C: CeCs serve as conduits for the delivery of government services to citizens especially in remote, unserved and underserved areas. In a good number of CeCs, ICT services and trainings are provided free to citizens. Information and technology delivery to previously inaccessible areas and communities has become possible, at minimal or little cost. From the PCeC program, government gained an information and service network whose true reach and potential have yet to be fully realized.

• G2G: The establishment of the PhilCeCNet unified scattered CeC initiatives of different government agencies and produced a new spirit of collaboration, eliminating wasteful duplication, and freeing scarce government resources for other service priorities.

• G2B: Public-private sector partnership is nurtured, involving the private sector particularly as Internet service providers, suppliers of ICT equipment or even training providers.

• B2C: With the public-private sector partnership, businesses, in turn, usher in services and job opportunities for citizens. Consumers likewise benefit from increased options for choice of goods, services, and opportunities, no longer hostage to monopoly choices.

Which brings us to the real end user benefits – that enjoyed by countless rural residents now, the farmer saving an ailing cow via the CeC’s access to animal symptom and treatment information in the absence of actual veterinary services, the job applicant landing a job online minus the critical costs of travel and follow-ups, the senior citizen getting online health care and interaction free, the student downloading information in place of a book the family could not afford, or the overseas Filipino able to locate missing kin via the CeC network, to name a few.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Information and Communications Technology Office - National Computer Center Field Operations Office
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Cheryl Ortega
Title:   Acting Director and Program Head  
Telephone/ Fax:   63 062 993-2878/ 63 062 991-2742
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   3F SRT Loong Building, Veterans Avenue Extension, Tumaga, Zamboanga City
Postal Code:   7000
City:   Zamboanga City
State/Province:   Zamboanga del Sur
Country:   Philippines

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