MANILA, Philippines — One of they key proponents of the measure creating the Department of ICT (DICT) said the bill still has a chance of passage despite opposition from some camps.
In an exclusive roundtable interview with local I.T. reporters on Wednesday, Taguig Rep. Sigfrido Tinga also admitted that the executive branch has raised issues regarding the creation of the department, although he stressed that Malacañang has no ill intentions about its opposition to the bill.
“We still think (there’s a chance of passage), hopefully under this administration,” Tinga said. “It’s just that it’s not their priority right now. The executive needs to be convinced that (having a) DICT is important.”
It will be remembered that both versions of the DICT bill in the House and in the Senate have been passed early this year, well ahead of the Cybercrime and Data Privacy bills, which have already been transmitted to Malacañang last week.
The bicameral conference for the DICT bill, meanwhile, was postponed indefinitely back in March.
Tinga said there has been a request from the executive to hold off on the bicameral conference until such time that issues brought up were answered.
Asked what these issues were, Tinga, also the Chair of the House Committee on ICT, said the executive branch is still looking at the DICT “as an unnecessary bureaucracy” whose functions of coordinating with the IT bigwigs of the industry can be performed by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).
The ICTO is the spin-off of the Commission on ICT, which was dissolved by President Benigno Aquino III last year, in an effort to rationalize government agencies. The ICTO has been placed under the stewardship of the Department of Science and Technology whose head, Sec. Mario Montejo, has been reported to have close ties with Malacañang.
However, with the eventual passage of ICT-related laws such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Act, the legislator pointed out how the ICTO would eventually have its hands full with other responsibilities.
“You have to be a little bit more forward-looking with this. ICT is eventually going to affect your educational system, your healthcare system, among others,” he stressed.
The solon acknowledged that the legislative and executive branches of government are not currently seeing eye to eye regarding this measure, seeing as to how it appears as if it doesn’t directly impact the lives of Filipinos.
“We are at a point in time when people see it’s important but don’t think it’s the end all and be all,” he said, stressing how educating the public about the importance of ICT in their lives could eventually turn the tide on the DICT bill.
“Our failure to understand and appreciate [what ICT is] is the reason why we are taken as a nation of consumers, and not as producers,” he added.
Even then, the various corners of the local ICT industry have long been clamoring for the creation of the department, which is said to accelerate the growth of the IT sector in the country.
Overall, the ICT sector is looking to contribute as much as $50 billion to the local economy, with direct revenues coming from the outsourcing, software development, animation, and back-office processing sectors of the industry.