SPEECHES & INTERPELLATIONS

Speeches

USE THE INTERNET FOR GOOD, NOT FOR ILL

Keynote speech of Senator Nene Pimentel at the 1st Asia Internet Congress in the Philippines, March 4-5, Crowne Plaza Galleria, Pasig City

Let me thank Mr. Rene Espinosa and Mr. Jesse Rebustillo and the Powermax Consulting Group, Inc., Porter and Miles, Inc., the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Job Market for kindly inviting me to this big event, which I am told is the first Internet Congress in this country.

Empowerment

 

Needless to say this Internet Congress is of vital importance to the participants and to the rest of our people so that all of us may more fully understand how the Internet empowers peoples all over the world.

 

Like any device or invention that is placed in the hands of people, the internet, however, may be a tool for good or for evil.

 

Greek Mythology

 

Let me digress for while and relate a story that many of you know from Greek mythology.  The gods of the ancient Greeks had a monopoly of fire in Mt. Olympus.

 

They did not want this primal element to be shared with mortals.

But Prometheus, one of the lesser gods in the hierarchy of divinity residing in Mt. Olympus, stole – that is without permission from Zeus, the Chief god - a flame from the Olympian hearth and shared it with mankind.

Amazing

Notwithstanding his good intentions, Prometheus was punished by Zeus. He was chained on a rock in a cliff. His liver was exposed to be eaten by an eagle at daytime but at night time the liver regenerated itself. The punishment was obviously meant to be eternal.

Incidentally, I find this matter of the liver regenerating itself amazing. The reason is that even before modern medicine had verified that the liver is one organ of human beings that rejuvenates itself, the Greeks of ancient times had apparently already known about it.

In any event, what I really wanted to underscore is the fact that fire in itself is a good thing. With it, we cook food, heat water and our homes and for a thousand and one other things.

But it may also be misused. It can burn people, set houses ablaze and reduce a million other things to ashes.

Apt analogy

I guess that to liken fire to the internet, the subject of our conference today is appropriate.

For like fire, the internet is a powerful tool for good.

Contact

For one thing, the internet has made people to people contact much more cheaply and speedily now than ever before. In the days of Columbus and Magellan, their trips to the New World and Asia needed Kings to bankroll their expeditions and took them from Europe months, if not years, to reach the peoples of the New World and of Asia and bring whatever the pioneers might have discovered back home. Now through the internet, peoples all over the world may converse and see one another over Skype directly, exchange emails, twitter or text messages, discuss serious business or tsimis in matters of seconds or minutes.

Info access

The internet has made information more accessible to many more people now than was the case, say, 10 years ago. Today, the internet has, thus, become an indispensable tool for learning in general.

Better life

Because of the internet, research into various topics and several aspects of life has become more facile than before. It has, therefore, provided a potent vehicle to gain knowledge and acquire wisdom for the betterment of life in general.

Because of the internet, people interested in finding jobs anywhere in the world or slots in universities far away from home or fixing prices for products to sell or to buy in world markets – in other words, trading and advertising – may be done so much more easily now than before its advent.

Underside

There is, however, an underside to the internet. Among other things, it may be used to promote criminal activities. The ease by which people can communicate with one another may be and is being abused by the use of cell phones and satellite computer communication networks - the main vehicles through which the internet functions.

Here’s one example. The instructions that guided the suicide bombers of the infamous 9/11 that devastated in 2001 the twin towers in New York and razed to the ground a sizeable part of the Pentagon in the Washington, DC area were reportedly sent through coded cell phone messages or emails.

          And here’s another example. The internet may be and is being used as a vehicle for the propagation of immorality.

Pornographic pictures are now being sent through the internet, through cell phone “sextings” or as attachments of emails.

And finally, a current example. The irresponsible use of the internet for gossiping, for intriguing against the honor of individuals, for maligning candidates particularly under cover of anonymity of the emailers, the twitters or the texters raises grave problems especially during this election period that is already upon us.

Like fire, the internet may, therefore, be used for good or ill.

Guidance

In the end, it really depends on us as a people, especially, we, as parents, to show by example and guide our children on the proper and gainful use of the internet. We, as parents, must not pass the buck to the government. We must express openly our views as to how government may curb the misuse of the internet. But let us not leave it completely to the hands of government officials to remedy the problem.

Otherwise, the government might provide a cure that could be worse than the ailment:  censorship not of what is inherently bad but of everything that does not jibe with government or officials views.

Tight rope

We are, therefore, treading on a tight rope between the people’s freedom of expression and the government’s duty to restrict what may be detrimental to the people’s general welfare and the national interest.

 Nonetheless, I hope that this conference will enable the participants and all of us to look at the internet in a positive light and to use it for the advancement of what is good for the people. And, hopefully, too, in the process come up with suggestions as to what governments in our respective countries may or may not do as regards the use of the internet.

Narrowing gap

And towards that direction, I propose that in our country the national and local governments should provide the needed funds to enable even the less fortunate among our people to access the internet not only in the urban areas but also in far flung barangays. By doing that, we may more speedily be able to narrow the traditional gap that has through the centuries divided our people into the haves who by wealth can access the internet on their own and the have-nots who would otherwise never be able to do so.

Then more, not less, of our people will be empowered by the internet to find ways of getting themselves out of the mire of poverty. And as a consequence, our people as a whole may help develop every nook and corner of our country more swiftly than has been the case for centuries.  

Thank you and have a fruitful congress.



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