Alas, Manila has a thinking mayor

Since its inception about a month ago, the new online system of payment in Manila for various kinds of transactions has earned praises from Filipinos here and abroad, not only for the convenience it offers but moreso because it helps one avoid mingling with crowds and exposing themselves to getting infected by COVID-19.

Little by little, Mayor Isko Moreno is continuously working hard to make the said payment system cover everything that necessitates the public, particularly Manila residents, to personally go to the Manila City Hall and risk exposure to the dreaded virus.

Initially, the new system was made available for about 370,000 real property unit owners and 50,000 business establishment owners in the city of Manila who need to pay their taxes, permits, licenses, etcetera. Now, even  those who need residence certificates or ‘cedula’ and birth certificates are covered by the system.

Before the system was introduced by Mayor Kois, one has to spend so much time, effort and money to commute or drive all the way to City Hall, brave the traffic or rains and then look for the ever evasive parking space in the case of vehicle owners.

Not only that. One has to come too early to avoid queues and traffic or risk not being able to beat the 5 p.m. deadline which is the time up to when the local government offices are open to accept transactions.

With the new system, Mayor Kois did not only provide the property owners, businessmen and ordinary masses the convenience of settling their dues or forwarding their payments within the confines of their very own home and even way beyond office hours, thus avoiding the need to go out and the possibility of getting exposed to possible sources of the coronavirus disease, while also doing away with the problem of maintaining social distancing.

To top it all, Mayor Kois was able to get and utilize the multi-million worth of online system without having to touch the city coffers. Not a single centavo was spent on it and now, he is even offering to share it with other local government units which may be interested in also being able to use the system free of charge.  The new system, which he assured is ‘secured’ and ensures that all payments go directly to the city coffers, can be availed through website ----https://www.cityofmanila.ph--- and according to Mayor Kois, it will also soon cover occupational health clearances, job opportunities and a wide range of other services possible, with the option of either picking up the documents or having them delivered to the taxpayer’s given address.

Barely a month after the online payment system was put to use, the office of Mayor Kois had been swamped with letters and emails congratulating and commending him for the bright idea and thanking him for making life easier for those transacting different kinds of businesses with the city.

Take note. The congratulatory letters are not only from locals.  A good number of them are from Filipinos, mostly Manilans, who are now based in different countries.

Among such many letters, one caught my attention. Jetty Omo shared his or her online payment experience from Central Europe (Czech Republic).

According to her, it had been her lifelong dream as an overseas Filipino worker, to be able to see the digital transformation of government services in our country. Since she is based abroad and her family is in Northern Luzon, having to  pay for the tax of their real property in Manila was a problem for her.

After availing of the new system which she described as ‘comparable if not better than other first world digital services,’  Omo, who it was learned is an IT professional no less, now ‘highly’ recommends the use of Manila’s online payment system, citing the following benefits that could be derived from it: ‘secured website with multi-factor authentication;single sign-on integration for various online services; fast, reliable and convenient and transparency on every transaction with no human intervention and prevents corruption.’

“The best part of it is the quality of support provided by the EDP department,” she stated further.  The EDP (electronic data processing)  is headed by Palileo Fortune and is responsible for the installation and maintenance of computer network systems in the city government.

I join the ranks of those who are happy and proud that finally, we have a thinking mayor sitting at the helm of the country’s capital city. Remember, there is this age-old saying that “where Manila goes, the country goes”.

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