Press Release
September 15, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara is pushing for the passage of three measures that would strengthen the country's information and communications technology (ICT) capability and enhance national competitiveness in this digital era.

Angara took the floor yesterday to sponsor the measure seeking to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Key officials of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFCP) and Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) came in full force to the Senate in a strong demonstration of support.

Among them were Atty. Jocelle Batapa, NICP President; Martin Crisostomo, BPAP Executive Director; Jeffrey Woodruff, American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Executive Director; John Forbes, AMCHAM Senior Advisor for Investment Climate Improvement; and Don Felbaum, AMCHAM Chairman of the Information and Communications Technology Committee.

Angara stressed that the IT-Business Process Outsourcing industry is clamoring for the country's own DICT to help ensure continued growth. The industry has reached a critical point, besting India as the contact center capital of the world last year and now trying to foray more aggressively in high-value, non-voice BPO services medical transcription, engineering services, IT and software development and creative media.

Last year, the IT-BPO industry made record revenues of US$9 billion--or 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)--and created 525,000 direct jobs, as well as 1.312 million more jobs in ancillary industries.

Estimates for 2011 show that the IT-BPO industry will produce 640,000 direct jobs by yearend, as well as 1.6 million indirect jobs. Growth will reach 22 percent.

"Half a decade ago, we already realized the need for a dedicated agency to plan the country's strategic ICT development and direction as IT-BPO industry was taking off. Yet until now we are still without one--hence we remain unable to seize the huge opportunities of the fast evolving digital age," said Angara, principal author of the proposed measure, together with Senators Loren Legarda and Manuel Villar.

"What is at stake here is obvious: growth and jobs. This gives us hope that we could shore up modest growth of 3.4 percent in the second quarter of 2011 and reduce the unemployment rate of 7.4 percent as of January 2011," stressed Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

Earlier this week, Angara also took the floor to defend the Cybercrime Prevention Act which he principally authored.

He responded to the interpellations of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III. The former clarified provisions relating to definitions of "obscenity" and the bill's relation to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime of the United Nations. The latter then expressed personal experiences with "cyber-squatting".

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2011 fills the legislative void not covered by the E-Commerce Law passed in July 2000. The proposed bill penalizes offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems; computer-related offenses such as forgery and fraud; and content-related offenses like cybersex, child pornography; and unsolicited commercial communications, more commonly known as "spam".

Through the Cybercrime Act, internet and mobile phone users will also be protected against illegal interception, data and system interference, and illegal access.

Citing the 30 million internet users in the country, and the booming IT-BPO industry now already contributing to 4.5 percent of GDP, Angara underscored the importance of said bill.

Among victims of "cybercrimes" have been the Web sites of Vice President Binay, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

A 2010 report to the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) shows that 667 government websites were defaced between 2003-2008.

According to Angara, passage of the bill will ultimately promote international collaboration, "Cybercrime is beyond the purview of any single government. On the contrary, all governments should have an equal responsibility in developing international internet governance."

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering, is also set to sponsor next week the Data Privacy Act which aims to improve security and confidentiality of personal information gathered by the IT-BPO industry while also safeguarding the collection, use and transmission of said information without constraining industry growth.

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