With the Internet rendering the Telecommunications Office (Telof) almost obsolete, the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) is laying the groundwork to transform the government unit into e-commerce centers.
The Telof, which has extensive presence in the far-flung areas of the country, used to be under the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) but is now under the ICTO. Its main function is to provide telecommunications facilities, including telephone system, for government offices.
According to ICTO executive director Louis Casambre, it is important for the Telof to go into e-commerce to stay relevant in the Internet age.
Casambre said the Telof is in a good position to offer end-to-end e-commerce services since the ICTO is the same government agency authorized to issue licenses for courier services.
“I’m actually surprised that we have the power to issue the licenses for courier services. But, hopefully this would make the transition of the Telof into the digital age easier,” said Casambre.
Casambre explained that ICTO’s power to issue courier licenses came from Executive Order 269 which created the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), the predecessor of the ICTO.
In that EO issued by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the power to regulate courier services was vested in the DOTC but delegated to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The CICT was designated as the issuing authority since the NTC was then placed under the CICT.
When the CICT was dissolved with the formation of the ICTO, the NTC was reverted to the Office of the President. For some reason, however, the power to regulate the courier industry remained with the ICTO.
Casambre said Telof’s move into e-commerce is part of the ICTO’s rationalization plan as this would give the affected the employees the chance to go into courier services.
“Since we are the issuing authority, we can issue the license for the creation of a private courier corporation which the workers can join,” he said.
The Telof currently has about 3,000 employees all over the country, according to Casambre.
While the plan is already on the drawing board, Casambre said Telof’s makeover is still being finalized and would probably take some time to materialize.
Meanwhile, the Telof facility in Cebu is set to open this quarter as a data center that can provide hosting and back-up services to government-owned websites.
The full operation of the data center, however, is targeted by third quarter of 2013.
This story has been updated to correct the legal basis of the ICTO’s authority to issue courier licenses. The previous version incorrectly cited the charter of the Philippine Postal Corporation.