Press Release
September 8, 2009


Aware of the opportunities for further technology development in the country, Senator Edgardo J. Angara today urges the Senate to create and allocate funds for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

As principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2546, Sen. Angara strongly believes that the creation of the DICT will be of major strategic importance in sustaining the country's global ICT competitiveness. ICT enables economic growth and opportunity and allows other mission-critical sectors such as health and education to achieve their development targets. The Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 2004-2010 recognized ICT's significance as a tool for the delivery of public sector goods and services. On an administrative level, ICT is key to streamlining government bureaucracy, making services and processes more accessible, efficient, and transparent.

Sen. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), notes, "The growth of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry and our country's mobile subscriber base are indicators that technology and information-based industries will define future economies. At this point, when the entire world faces an economic crisis few of us have experienced in our lives, the significance of these industries is not just a matter of dependence, but survival."

"Should indeed the worst come about and our traditional hope for relief--the vast OFW market--completely collapse due to the crisis, we have a measure of hope from nurturing our BPO sector. This sector is our bulwark, but we must move on; for the future we need to do better. These industries can not remain mere havens in times of crisis. We must turn them into our core competencies," asserts Sen. Angara.

The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) was first created through EO269, signed 12 January 2004 as a transitory measure to create a DICT. Since the CICT was created by an EO, its powers and functions may also be changed or removed by the mere issuance of another EO. To clarify the issue of having to create another government agency, Sen. Angara is quick to say that the DICT Bill merely seeks to comprise existing ICT-related government agencies, including the operating units of CICT, the National Computer Center, the Telecommunications Office and the other communications units of the DOTC. As all these units have their own approved budgets, the creation of the DICT will simply result in the realignment of these budgets.

Technology, Sen. Angara stresses, is the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating and administration tool of the executive branch of the Government. But despite its benefits and promises to deliver, the country's ICT sector lags behind other countries, including ASEAN neighbors and BPO competitors, that have ministries or departments focused on ICT.

To put his arguments into a simplified perspective, Sen. Angara puts forward, "When Filipinos communicate with colleagues and loved ones, they use mobile communication technologies. In fact, the Philippines is widely considered the text messaging capital of the world. In school or at work, computers and productivity software accomplish our tasks. Our OFWs also use ICT to stay in touch with families and friends. In financial services ATMs are the norm, while a good number are increasingly shifting to online banking. E-commerce is steadily gaining momentum with online retailers."

Despite high mobile penetration rate, the Philippines still has one of the lowest broadband penetration rates at 3.6% and one of the lowest PC penetration rates at 8.9%. Proliferation of internet cafes have partially mitigated this by increasing the number of internet users, but the Philippines still has a long way to go. Some of the reasons for the persistence of this problem are the high cost of PCs, the high cost of broadband connectivity, the lack of connectivity in unserved and underserved areas and the lack of homegrown web content.

"This is one of the vital roles that the DICT seeks to achieve: to lead and focus on this problem and work with the telecommunications and broadband service providers to come up with creative solutions. The benefits that ICT brings to the poor are practically limitless and we only need to increase awareness and make it more accessible and affordable to our citizens," concludes Sen. Angara.

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