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Almost There: The Department of Information and Communications Technology

In the middle of this year, Senate Bill 2686 of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Act of 2015 was approved on Third and Final Reading by the Philippine Senate of the 16th Congress.

Senate Bill Number 2686 (SBN 2686) authored by Sen. Ralph G. Recto, Committee on Science and Technology chair aims to promote ICT expertise and promote digital literacy in the country.

SBN 2686 is part of the key economic reform legislation geared towards meeting the developmental challenges that needs to be overcome in order for the country to be competitive in the 21st Century. Also, it has the ASEAN Market Integration as its initial hurdle since the country must be at par with other ASEAN economies.

As per SBN 2686, the DICT would be the primary department in charge with developing, planning and promoting the government’s ICT Agenda. The DICT would link all government ICT resources and networks under an integrated and harmonized network. It would also link databases and networks of government institutions and agencies. This will help improve services, expedite information requests and beef up consumer protection policies . By having a DICT, permits, licenses, land titles and other government services can be electronically applied for, processed and issued.

The DICT will be tasked to encourage the growth of the ICT and ICT related industries by promoting investment opportunities for ICT firms and even ICT related start-ups, create local and international partnerships to speed up industry growth and competitiveness.

The DICT will work with the Department of Education (DepEd) and TESDA to mainstream ICT in schools and manpower development centers. The DICT will merge ICT-related agencies under DOST and DOTC namely, the ICTO, NCC, National Computer Institute, Telecommunications Office and the National Telecommunications and Training Institute (NTTI). Also, the DCT will have under its umbrella the NTC, National Privacy Commission Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center. These will be for coordination and implementation of cyber security policies and programs of the country.

SBN 2686 will be harmonized with the House of Representative version in a bicameral committee meeting. The House version is on its First Reading.

SBN 2686 is a consolidation of bills filed by Senators Recto, Loren Legarda, Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Cynthia Villar.

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