By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, June 1 (PNA) – With 12-0 vote, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill creating a separate department that would supervise solely on the development of the country’s growing information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
The approved Senate Bill No. 2686 will be known as the Department of Information and Communications Technology Act of 2015.
”This measure aimed to promote digital literacy and ICT expertise across the country,” Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate committee on science and technology and sponsor of the bill, said.
Recto said once enacted into law, the DICT would be “the primary department in charge of developing, planning, and promoting the government’s ICT agenda.”
He said creating the DICT would link all government ICT resources and networks under an integrated and harmonized framework, “so that knowledge is transferred, resources are shared, databases are built and agency networks are linked together.”
He said having an integrated government database would help improve services and expedite information requests to government offices and officials, such as applications for state-issued documents.
Recto said the DICT would establish a free internet service that ordinary Filipinos could access in government offices and public areas “using the most cost-effective telecommunications technology.”
“The DICT is also mandated to beef up consumer protection policies to protect consumers against lousy service, and at the same time ensure business users’ right to privacy,” he said.
The DICT, Recto said, would also be tasked to encourage the growth of the ICT industry, by promoting investment opportunities for ICT firms, as well as by creating local and international partnerships to speed up industry growth and competitiveness.
He said the DICT would work with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in “mainstreaming ICT in schools and manpower development to ensure that the country’s human resources are ICT-competent.”
Recto said that the DICT would be created by merging existing ICT-related agencies under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC); namely the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), the National Computer Center (NCC), the National Computer Institute (NCI), the Telecommunications Office (TELOF), and the National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI).
Also under the proposed measure, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC) would be attached to the DICT for the coordination and implementation of the country’s cyber security policies and programs.
SBN 2686 is a consolidation of bills filed by Senators Recto, Loren Legarda, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Cynthia Villar. (PNA)