Creation of Philippine ICT dep't nears

The government is close to creating a new agency solely dedicated to the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, after the Senate today unanimously passed the DICT bill on third and final reading.

Senator Edgardo Angara, author and sponsor of the DICT bill, said that the House of Representatives has already approved the counterpart measure of Senate Bill No. 50, which calls for the reorganization of communications-related agencies under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) into a separate entity known as the DICT.

“I can only laud my colleagues for enacting swiftly a measure that many of us have been waiting for a long time,” Angara said, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology or COMSTE.

Angara said the Senate voted 12-0 in favor of the measure. Senators Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III, Teofisto Guingona III, Lito Lapid and Manuel Villar co-sponsored the said measure.

Angara reiterated that many sectors, such as the Information Technology and Business Processing Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry, have expressed support for the establishment of a DICT.

In a position paper submitted to the Senate, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) underscored that the new department will help ensure the country’s global competitiveness and attractiveness for foreign investments, particularly during the digital age.

Angara noted that at the beginning of 2011, 158 ICT agencies existed, regulating more than 80 percent of the markets worldwide.

The Senator noted ASEAN nations such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have their own Ministries or Departments of ICT.

The Philippines is in league with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar in not having a separate agency focused on ICT development, he added.

“Having a DICT in place provides ample opportunity for us to create policies that will transition the country toward a full-fledged technology-driven economy,” Angara said.

He added: “Of course, the bill still has to go under bicameral review before ultimately getting signed into law by the President. But I am optimistic that the imperative of having a DICT in this information age is clear enough that we will have the necessary legislation in place very soon.”

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