Philippine Senate OKs Creation of Department of ICT

The Philippine Senate has, on third and final reading, approved the law creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). This new department will be a line agency in the country’s executive department, which gives it more power to execute policies and run projects, as well as a national budget directly stipulated in the annual general appropriations act, instead of being funded under various other agencies.

Local tourists use video cameras and mobile phones to record an underwater scene during the public opening of the Manila Ocean Park in this file photo. The Philippine Senate has recently approved a bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology, which will consolidate the government's IT and communications-related activities. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

Voting 12-0, senators have approved Senate Bill No. 50 under Committee Report 53, which will reorganize existing communications-related agencies under other the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) into a separate entity. The law will also abolish other existing agencies such as the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), National Computer Center (NCC) and Telecommuncations Office (TelOf). The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Philippine Postal Corporate (PPC) will likewise be attached under the newly-formed DICT.

SB No. 50 says these agencies’ “powers, function, applicable funds and appropriations, records, equipment, property, and personnel [are] transferred to” the DICT.

With the creation of the DICT, the President will be required to appoint a Secretary for ICT, subject to the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments, as well as three DICT undersecretaries. The DICT shall likewise establish regional offices across the country.

The DICT will also get a PhP 1.2 billion (US$ 28.02 million) budget funneled from existing communications-related agencies for the year following its enactment, while subsequent years’ budgets will be appropriated for in the GAA.

The bill’s counterpart measure in the country’s House of Representatives has likewise been passed, and so the DICT bill shall now be discussed by a bicameral conference committee, where both versions will be reconciled for final passing and signing into law by President Benigno Aquino III.