More business groups back proposed ICT department

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Date: 25 Feb 2015

More support from business groups has emerged for legislation to create a Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), a proposal which has to this point not made it past bicameral level in recent Congresses.

The Federation of International Cable T.V. and Telecommunications Association of the Philippines (FICTAP), a group of medium, small and micro cable TV operators, became the latest to add its backing for Senate Bill No. 2368 in a letter to Senator Ralph G. Recto, who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.
FICTAP added its name to the list of the bill’s backers, which include the 11 business groups that sent a letter of support on Feb. 3 to Mr. Recto and Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.In their joint letter, the 11 called the creation of the department “low-hanging fruit,” signaling their belief that the benefits of a new department are obvious. They also said the new agency is long overdue after having been rejected by the last three Congresses.

“The creation of the DICT will make the Philippines at par with the rest of the world where 80% of all countries have separate departments, ministries or agencies for ICT,” according to the letter, which was signed by the Information and Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.

Six foreign chambers of commerce also signed the letter — the American Chamber of Commerce, Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

“Furthermore, DICT will raise the priority of ICT in the country to a higher level, improve e-governance, raise broadband quality, help strengthen our cyber-security and improve national competitiveness,” the letter further read.

The letter also urged the government to adopt the version that passed third reading in the last Congress to fast-track the legislative process.

As an author of the bill, Senator Juan Edgardo J. Angara said in an interview that he is open to the suggestion, calling it a reasonable course of action as the measure has undergone extensive debate.

FICTAP, in its letter of support, only sought clarification on powers that would be vested to the proposed government agency, particularly on its powers to grant incentives.

Asked for its position on the creation of a DICT, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) said that it has no stake in the matter as the communications component has been transferred to other government agencies.

In a text message, DoTC Spokesperson Michael Arthur C. Sagcal said that the National Telecommunication Commission was transferred to the Office of the President, while its other IT units are now under the Department of Science and Technology.

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