Pioneering set of DICT officials formally assumes office

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The first batch of top officials of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which included three undersecretaries and one assistant secretary, formally took their oath of office on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

DICT sec. Rodolfo Salalima (left, back facing the camera) swearing in undersecretaries Jorge Sarmiento, Eliseo Rio, Denis Villorente, and assistant secretary John Henry Gana
DICT sec. Rodolfo Salalima (left, back facing the camera) swearing in undersecretaries Jorge Sarmiento, Eliseo Rio, Denis Villorente, and assistant secretary John Henry Gana

The newly appointed officials were sworn in by the DICT’s first secretary, Rodolfo Salalima, at the DICT Building in Quezon City.

Those inducted into office were Jorge V. Sarmiento, who was named undersecretary for management and operations; Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. as undersecretary for special concerns; Denis F. Villorente as undersecretary for developmental and innovations; and John Henry D. Naga as assistant secretary.

The undersecretary for management and operations is tasked with managing the internal processes of the department, which includes financial, administrative, and legal management, as well as procurement.

The position also provides assistance to the secretary in supervising the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). Sarmiento, who will be in charge of these functions, is no stranger to the NTC as he once served as deputy commissioner of the regulatory body.

A graduate of political science and Bachelor of Laws at the University of the Philippines, he was also a former deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, assistant secretary for Postal Services Office, and commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), with the rank of undersecretary.

The undersecretary for special concerns, meanwhile, is charged with the formulation of policies, planning, and programming of cybersecurity and emergency communications, and the implementation of strategic programs and projects, and regional operations.

The position also holds a supervisory role of the Cybercrime Investigation Coordination Center (CICC), the National Privacy Commission (NPC), and the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC), as well as overseeing duties regarding the participation of the DICT in the activities of the NDRRMC.

Rio, a retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will be performing these functions. In the military, he was appointed as chief of the AFP Communication, Electronics and Information Systems Service and as deputy Chief of Staff.

After retiring as brigadier general, he was appointed as chair of the NTC in 2001. Following this, he was also chairman of the board of NextMobile from February 2006 to January 2007.

On the other hand, the undersecretary for developmental and innovations is in charge with the formulation of policies, planning, and programming for ICT development, which includes human capital development programs and research and development.

The position is also tasked with the conceptual and technical development and support of strategic programs and projects of the DICT that covers connectivity, e-Government, e-Society, and e-Innovation.

Villorente, former director of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the DOST, is tasked with carrying out these duties. In addition, he is also designated to oversee the participation of the DICT in the activities of the NEDA ICC Board.

Villorente is a former deputy executive director for e-Government of the Information and Communications Technology Office. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Engineering, earning his MS and BS Electrical Engineering degrees in 2001 and 1989 respectively.

Lastly, lawyer Naga will serve as assistant secretary at the DICT. A law graduate of San Beda Collage like Salalima, he is said to have pioneered the conversion of all GMA TV stations from analog TV to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcast.

The government executives were personally picked by Salalima, who chose them for having significant experience in different areas in government service.

In his speech after the oath-taking ceremonies, Sarmiento asked for the assistance of employees to make the DICT one of the best departments in the bureaucracy.

Napakalaki ng ating katungkulan or responsibilidad na inatas sa ating lahat. The department, especially the secretary and senior officials will only be successful or effective kung magtulungan po tayo. Our battle cry is that of unity, discipline, and teamwork.”

Rio expressed the same sentiment by declaring that the newly appointed senior officials will do their best effort in their new positions, and that they will need the help of the DICT Staff.

Villorente noted that the new executives are an experienced group, each with more than a decade of experience in government and public service.

“We hope and expect that everyone will align their efforts. We are here to serve and to provide good service,” Villorente said.

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