Tarlac representative Victor A. Yap, chair of the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), called on the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to address the continued prevalence of fake news in the country during the budget hearing of the DICT last Monday, September 3.
According to Yap, the DICT should have its own policy to combat the spread of fake news.
“How can we be fair to all? Facebook has a policy, yet they’re only a corporation. We already have the Cybercrime Prevention Act. Do we need another law to deal with fake news? I think it is our inaction or our delay that is fostering all these. The issue of national security has been raised. But what about personal security? We must address all of these simultaneously,” Yap said.
In addition, Yap pointed out that in order for DICT to properly perform its functions, higher budget must be given to the department. He noted that the proposed budget of the DICT is still too meager compared to the enormous tasks that lay ahead for the department.
Although thankful for the support of the lawmakers, Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio conceded that the DICT is still a new department. According Rio, “the problem lies with the DICT’s absorptive capacity. Currently, there are only about 200 appointed employees and 8 clustered offices. The DICT is still convincing the DBM to allow the DICT to establish 17 regional offices throughout the country,” Rio said.
Yap then urged the DICT to expedite the implementation of the National Broadband Program (NBP). According to the solon, the government should take advantage of the 2 terabytes free Internet allocation from the government deal with Facebook.
He urged the DICT to ask Malacanang to certify the “Open Access” bill as urgent and encouraged the DICT to develop a business model where free Internet can can be distributed evenly and efficiently to all the regions in the country.
“We already have the necessary program to ensure interconnectivity within the country. Is there a way to audit the Free Public WiFi? Why is it so slow? This is a billion peso project. We must guaranty that the benefits of this program will be felt by the people,” Yap said.