The Filipino government’s upper house, the Senate, yesterday passed – on its third and final reading – a measure creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology Act (DICT) which, if signed into law by President Aquino, will establish the new agency with a stated focus to grow the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector by promoting digital literacy and ICT expertise. The long-anticipated bill has been buried in parliament for several years, although with a counterpart bill in the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, still pending in the Committee on Information and Communications Technology, it appears that progress is finally being made. Senate president pro-tempore and sponsor of the bill, Ralph Recto, said the measure is a huge step forward in this age of computers and internet, adding that DICT will be the primary agency ‘in charge of developing, planning, and promoting the government’s ICT agenda’.
Meanwhile, Senate president Franklin Drilon noted that the new bill forms a core strand of the government’s economic reform legislation. ‘The measure addresses the need for the Philippines to be at par with other ASEAN economies which have cabinet-level departments for their ICT sector, especially with our flourishing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and digitally-savvy populace,’ Drilon said.
Under the proposed measure, existing agencies under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), such as the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), the National Computer Centre (NCC), the Telecommunications Office (TelOf) and the National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI, will be absorbed into the DICT. Telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Philippine Postal Corporate (PPC) will likewise be attached to the newly-formed DICT.