Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Angara files DICT bill, says it’s high time for new department

Sen. Sonny Angara has filed a bill seeking to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), saying the country needs at this point a dedicated agency that will ensure that innovations in ICT would benefit the Filipino people and contribute to nation-building and global competitiveness.

Sen. Sonny Angara
Sen. Sonny Angara

The Aquino administration, which has earlier steadfastly opposed the formation of the new ICT department, has changed its position and is now supporting the initiative.

Under Angara’s Senate Bill 2368 or the DICT Act, among the department’s primary mandate is to ensure the application of ICT to the various processes and functions of the government in order to improve the productivity of national and local government programs.

“The application of ICT to the processes of government functioning, or what we call e-governance or electronic governance, will bring about efficient, ethical, accountable, responsive and transparent governance in our country,” the lawmaker said.

The DICT will also be mandated to plan, promote, and help develop the country’s ICT sector and ensure reliable and cost-efficient communications facilities, other multimedia infrastructure and services.

The bill also mandates the DICT to ensure universal access and high-speed connectivity at fair and reasonable costs as well as the availability and accessibility of ICT services in areas not adequately served by the private sector.

It will also encourage the use of ICT for the development and promotion of the country’s agriculture, arts and culture, history, education, public health and safety, and other socio-civic purposes.

“A digital revolution is taking root throughout the country, driving fundamental changes in the way we work, communicate, play, travel, learn, participate ? ultimately in the way we live. These far-reaching transformations demand the full attention of government,” said Angara, vice chair of the Senate committee on science and technology.

The senator, who has been filing the bill during his stint as a member of the House of Representatives, cited reports saying that from being the “texting capital of the world,” the Philippines has also been recognized as the “social networking capital of the world,” with nine out of 10 Filipino Internet users signed into Facebook.

A 2013 report from the National Statistical Coordination Board also showed that Internet access in the Philippines has covered over a third of the country’s population.

While the DICT is mandated to promote the access to and encourage the widespread use of ICT, it must also ensure the cybersecurity of assets of individuals and businesses including the rights of individuals to privacy and confidentiality of their personal information.

“Throughout global society, changes have occurred because of developments in ICT. Many now speak of building up a knowledge-driven economy–a goal which the Philippines cannot achieve without proper institutional focus and adequate support,” Angara said.

The lawmaker explained that under the proposed measure, the DICT will be established out of a reorganization of the current Department of Transportation and Communications since the needs of the information and communications sector are distinct from transportation, and thus merit equally distinct technical expertise and governmental support.

Angara’s father, former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara, had likewise filed a similar bill during his incumbency in the Senate.

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