NICP chief hits gov’t inaction on ICT bills

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The head of ICT councils in the Philippines has warned that crucial ICT bills passed by Congress recently are in danger of ?going into waste? if the government would continue to drag its foot in approving it.


The three ICT legislations which Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, chair of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, are referring to are the DICT, data privacy, and cybercrime bills.

Except for the cybercrime bill which has been passed by the Senate but still pending in the House of Representatives, the two other ICT bills have already been approved by both houses of Congress.

But the bicameral committee that was supposed to reconcile the different versions approved by the Senate and House of Representatives has not been convened after an initial meeting did not push through, allegedly due to the interference of some high government officials.

“We want to inquire from Congress the reason why it is difficult to convene a bicameral committee to tackle and finalize the bill for the approval of the President, especially when said bills are crucial to our economic growth,” Batapa-Sigue said in a statement.

The Bacolod-based lawyer sent the statement from Seattle, Washington where she toured the headquarters of software giant Microsoft as part of 2012 Eisenhower Fellowship.

Batapa-Sigue said the current session of Congress will end its term in the next few months, with the lawmakers soon turning their attention for next year?s elections.

“All efforts [in passing the ICT bills] will go back to zero,” she said.

Batapa-Sigue narrated that a top-ranking Microsoft executive, Alan Merrihew, shared with her a copy of the ?BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard?, which ranked the Philippines poorly among the 24 countries surveyed.

The economies covered in the study accounted for 80 percent of the global ICT market based on seven policy categories that measure the countries? preparedness to support the growth of cloud computing (presence of laws on data privacy, security cybercrime, intellectual property, support for industry-led standards and international harmonization of rules, promoting free trade, and ICT readiness, broadband deployment).

Batapa-Sigue said Japan topped the list with Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, China, Thailand and Vietnam in the top 24.

?Sadly, the Philippines is out of the league. These policy categories mentioned in the report are crucial. Unfortunately, the Philippines lack these policies. Hence once again ? we call on our policy-makers to fast-track the passage into law of the three ICT bills — data privacy, cybercrime and DICT bills.?

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