DICT bill sails through Senate with 12-0 vote
More than a decade after its introduction, the Senate finally approved on Tuesday, Feb. 28, a proposed law creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) with an overwhelming vote 12-0.
The bill, which was swiftly passed by the Senate even with the ongoing impeachment trial, will now go into bicameral conference to be reconciled with the approved version of the House of Representatives.
Various stakeholders have earlier voiced their support of the bill to give the country a dedicated agency in charge of the ICT industry, which contributes billions of revenues to the local economy.
With the passage of the bill, the new department will now absorb the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) which was created by Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III last year to replace the Commission of Information and Communications Technology (CICT).
Other ICT-related agencies from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are also expected to be folded into the new department.
The DOST last year said it was against the creation of the DICT but it eventually abandoned its opposition. It did not, however, actively push for the bill’s passage.
Although the DICT is almost a done deal, Aquino may still not act on the bicam report or he may exercise his veto powers. However, the Congress can also override the veto.
Sen. Edgardo Angara, the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, has earlier stressed that the proposed law will not create an entirely new department out of thin air but will merely reorganize and harmonize different ICT units under one agency.
“I can only laud my colleagues for enacting swiftly a measure that many of us have been waiting for a long time,” Angaran said in statement.
Senators Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III, Teofisto Guingona III, Lito Lapid, and Manuel Villar co-sponsored the measure.
Angara, who is also chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (Comste), noted that at the beginning of 2011, 158 ICT agencies existed, regulating more than 80 percent of the markets worldwide.
Asean member-nations Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam have their own Ministries or Departments of ICT. The Philippines is in league with Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar in not having a separate agency focused on ICT development.
“Having a DICT in place provides ample opportunity for us to create policies that will transition the country toward a full-fledged technology-driven economy,” stressed Angara