Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pnoy signs the creation of new Information and Communications Technology Department

Hoping to end his term of office with one last major instance of legislation, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed on May 24 the Republic Act 10844 to form a new executive department of the government: the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). This has been acknowledged in most of the country’s national broadsheets to be in response to the widespread outcry over slow and subpar internet service compared to other countries in Asia, among other matters related to general information and communications technology (ICT).

Under the terms laid out in RA10844, The existing Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) will have all its departmental units with functions and responsibilities regarding communications abolished, re-organizing it into merely the Department of Transportation, dealing solely with transportation-related issues. Meanwhile, certain other minor agencies will now be attached to the DICT such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the National Privacy Commission and the Cyber Crime Investigation and Coordination Commission (CICC). 

Under the new department’s oversight these agencies will carry on the coordination and implementation of the Philippines’ policies and programs regarding cyber security.

This is projected to be a boon to the maintenance and safety of the country’s financial systems and private databases, both of which recently have come under fire due to an international money laundering plot from Bangladesh and allegations of hacking the Commission of Elections during the just-concluded Presidential polls. The DICT is also tasked to cooperate and coordinate with the Department of Education (DepEd) and its constituent agencies in order to streamline ICT support in the schools while ensuring ICT competency in the nation’s large reserves of manpower.

In addition, the new department is set to light a fire under existing telecommunications and info-tech providers to greatly improve the quality and speed of their offered services, in light of reports by internet metrics providers who have ranked the Philippines’ internet speed as the second slowest in Asian nations, just ahead of Afghanistan. Already two of the largest telecom companies, PLDT and Globe, have announced their willingness to abide by the DICT’s mandate, even pointing out that they have long been taking steps to make faster quality service a reality for Filipinos. Manila-based Wireless Link Technologies, Inc. also ranks among the country’s foremost nationwide ICT providers, and has also expressed their support for the newly-minted DICT and added their calls for improved telecom and info-tech amenities nationwide.

It is expected that the full implementation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s duties and functions shall be done at the start of incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office.