Philippines: Govt ‘finally’ on its way to forming ICT Department

AFTER years of wavering, the Filipino government is finally on the cusp of forming a Department of Information and Communications Technology, much to the surprise as many.

According to telecommunications site, the department’s formation is unexpected as outgoing President Benigno Aquino had constantly reiterated that there was no need for such. His stance was backed up by his administration which did not support the need for another “layer of bureaucracy”.

Previously, the ICT office was under the purview of the Department of Science and Technology since 2011 and the bill to create a Department of ICT was finally ratified by Congress earlier this month.

The department’s formation comes at a time when the country is becoming more known as an IT Business Outsourcing Industry (BPO-IT) powerhouse, with a tech-savvy population active on social media.

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The irony, as the site pointed out, was the fact that the conservative, predominantly Catholic country signed a Reproductive Health Law sooner than it could decide on creating an ICT department.

The country’s president-elect, Rodrigo Duterte, will be tasked with appointing the department’s first set of officials although his predecessor was the one who signed the law.

The tough-talking Duterte recently warned the local telcos to “shape up or face foreign competition”.

According to Philstar, Aquino had last week signed the Republic Act 10844 creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in a move which answered a clamor for a government agency that is focused on ICT matters, including Internet speed and online or electronic-related crimes.

To coordinate and implement the country’s cyber security policies and programs, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC) will be attached to the department, Philstar reported.