The Senate in the Philippines has passed a bill to set up a standalone department responsible for the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) policies and regulations. In a unanimous vote, legislators approved the third and final reading of Senate Bill No. 50, which is designed to reorganise a number of disparate communications-related agencies into a single Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The move was immediately welcomed by the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), made up of the nation’s leading technology companies, which thanked lawmakers for taking a ‘historical step’. The industry has been pushing for the creation of a DICT for more than ten years and last year finally saw the lower House of Congress pass a similar measure, House Bill 4667. The upper and lower house will now liaise on a single version of the bill for President Aquino to sign into law.
The Senate Bill No. 50 will see a number of key changes: agencies such as the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), the National Computer Centre (NCC) and the Telecommunications Office (TelOf), will be absorbed into the DICT. The market regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) will likewise be attached under the newly-formed DICT. In brief, Bill No. 50 says that these existing agencies’ ‘powers, function, applicable funds and appropriations, records, equipment, property, and personnel [will be] transferred to’ the new single agency.