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Aquino signs law creating ICT dep’t

THE SIGNING of the law creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seen as making the Philippines a more attractive destination for ICT, outsourcing and offshore companies, with the new agency expected to help in improving broadband services and Internet infrastructure in the country.

Henry J. Schumacher, vice president for the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said this development “will make the Philippines a more desirable destination for the ICT, business process management and knowledge process management industry.”

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“The DICT will also be able to address cybersecurity, data privacy and the quality of broadband infrastructure,” Schumacher said in a text message on Monday.

President Aquino on Monday signed into law Republic Act No. 10844 or An Act Creating the DICT.

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Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said it will  rename the present Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) the Department of Transportation.

RA 10844 states that information and communication have vital roles in nation-building and it is the state’s policy to “ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable and secure ICT services.”

It should also “ensure the provision of a strategic, reliable, cost-efficient and citizen-centric information and communications technology infrastructure, systems and resources as instruments of good governance and global competitiveness.”

Coloma said the following agencies would be abolished and transferred to the DICT: Information and Communications Technology Office; National Computer Center; National Computer Institute; Telecommunications Office; National Telecommunications Training Institute; and all operating units of the DOTC with functions and responsibilities dealing with communications.

“As provided for in the law, the DICT shall be headed by a secretary, who will be assisted by three undersecretaries and four assistant secretaries,” Coloma said.

He said two of the three undersecretaries and two of the four assistant secretaries should be career officers.

“One of the four assistant secretaries shall also be a licensed professional electronics engineer,” the secretary said.

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RA 10844 provides for a six-month transition period.

Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, said in a text message the group was hopeful the new agency will be able to provide greater connectivity, more bandwidth and more government funding for telecommunications-related activities.

“This is welcome news.  Now there is collective focus on ICT which is very important in today’s digital economy.  It bodes well for developing our ICT capabilities to make our country more competitive in the region,” Yoly Crisanto, Globe senior vice president  for corporate communications, said in a text message.

“We congratulate President Aquino for signing this landmark act. A DICT is essential to promote e-governance; improve the Internet experience at reasonable prices in order for all Filipinos to enjoy the benefits the digital economy; support our dynamic business process outsourcing industry; enhance the nation’s cybersecurity; and otherwise improve national competitiveness,” said John D. Forbes, senior advisor at the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

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