Sunday, June 15, 2008

House OKs bill splitting DoTC, creating new IT dept


House OKs bill splitting DoTC, creating new IT dept
First Posted 12:44:00 06/15/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill proposing to install a totally new department that would look after and advance the country's information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Under the bill, the new Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) would be spun off from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC).

All existing DoTC offices dealing with communications would either be built into or attached to the DICT. These include the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Philippine Postal Corp. The National Computer Center, now assigned to the Department of Science and Technology, would also be ceded to the DICT.

"The DoTC's administrative and jurisdictional foundations can no longer cope with the rapid advances in ICT. Thus, the need to establish a wholly new, full-grown department to deal with ICT matters exclusively," said Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House committee on ICT, in a statement.

Santiago's panel, together with the committee on appropriations chaired by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and the committee on government reorganization chaired by Zamboanga City Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian, previously endorsed the bill.

Under House Bill 4300, Santiago said the new DICT would "ensure the provision of strategic, dependable, and cost-efficient ICT infrastructures, systems, and resources as instruments for nation-building and global competitiveness."

Santiago, former chief of the NTC, said the new department would "promote a policy environment of fairness, broad private sector participation in ICT development, and balanced investment between high-growth and economically-depressed districts."

He said the DICT would likewise be mandated to ensure:

* The accelerated development of convergent networks of ICT facilities;

* Universal access and high-speed connectivity at fair and reasonable cost;

* Ample ICT services in areas not sufficiently served by the private sector;

* Widespread use and application of emerging ICT;

* A strong and effective regulatory system;

* Adequate consumer protection as well as free and fair competition;

* Abundant human resources for ICT development;

* Incentives to grow ICT industries;

* Protection of the right to privacy; and

* ICT support for culture, education, as well as public health and safety.

The bill defines ICT as "the aggregate of all electronic means to collect, store, process, and present information to end-users in support of their activities."

ICT consists of computer systems, office channels, and consumer electronics, as well as networked information infrastructures, the components of which include the telephone system, the Internet and satellite/cable television.

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