The information and communications technology (ICT) sector in the Philippines has a new Department of ICT (DICT), even as one local e-Employment project won an international award.
Philippine Department of ICT created after 15 years
After 15 years since the first DICT bill was filed in Congress, the proposed government department has finally been signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on Monday.
Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10844, creating the nation’s DICT, five weeks before he steps down as president of the republic on June 30.
Lawyer Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, former chair of the National ICT Council Federation of the Philippines (NICP), said signing the measure was a “momentous day” for the ICT sector, which has been pushing for a DICT since 2001.
Supporters of the bill have been clamoring for years that having a DICT will help accelerate e-government, cyberservices, human capital, and information infrastructure as well as various pending partnerships with academia, local stakeholders, and industry associations, among others.
The DICT will be headed by a secretary, who will be assisted by three undersecretaries and four assistant secretaries.
Communication secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the new law also states that two of the three undersecretaries and two of the four assistant secretaries shall be career officers. One of the four assistant secretaries shall also be a licensed professional electronics engineer.
He added the law also requires that the secretary, as well as the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, have “at least seven years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology; information technology service management; information security management; cybersecurity, data privacy, e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector.”
The new law likewise indicated the abolishment of some agencies as they will be transferred to the newly created DICT. Among them are: Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO); National Computer Center (NCC); National Computer Institute (NCI); Telecommunications Office (TELOF); National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI); and all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with functions and responsibilities dealing with communications.
DOTC shall be renamed and reduced as Department of Transportation.
The law also provides for a six-month transition period from effectivity for the full implementation of the transfer of functions, assets and personnel.
Coloma noted the existing personnel shall continue to assume their posts in holdover capacities until new appointments are issued.
Philippine e-Employment project awarded WSIS champion in Switzerland
The Tech4ED Project of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), won the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2016 Prizes under the e-Employment action line in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Tech4ED Project, which stands for “Technology for Education to gain Employment, and to empower Entrepreneurs towards Economic Development,” seeks to provide access to ICT enabled services and relevant content to marginalized communities via a single platform.
According to the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), 18 projects were hailed “WSIS Prize Champions” out of 70 nominees from around the world.
ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao announced the prize for the Tech4ED Project during the WSIS High-Level Opening Segment in Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG).
“ITU and its WSIS partners strongly believe in the critical importance of ICTs in achieving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Zhao said.
“Through the Tech4ED Project, we aim to uplift people from the cycle of poverty, reduce inequalities, expand opportunities for decent work, and accelerate the achievement of inclusive, sustainable economic growth,” said Head of eSociety Bettina Quimson, whose team is spearheading the Tech4ED Project.
Tech4ED Centers in rural and under-served areas aim to create more self-reliant communities through access to connectivity, communication, information, knowledge and vital government services.
As of early 2016, a total of 163 operational Tech4ED Centers across the Philippines have benefited over 4,000 users belonging to sectors such out-of-school-youth, senior citizens, entrepreneurs, overseas Filipino workers, persons with disabilities, students and educators.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to the Tech4ED Project are: end poverty in all its forms everywhere (Goal 1); ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (Goal 4); achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (Goal 5); and, promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all (Goal 8).
“The WSIS Prizes recognize all players in the effort to improve global connectivity, from governments and global ICT companies to grassroots NGOs leading innovative ICT-oriented projects at the local level. All of these stakeholders are equally vital to the success of the WSIS Process,” Zhao said.
An open online voting process for the awards engaged over 245,000 stakeholders from different countries. A total of 311 projects were nominated for the 2016 contest, reflecting both the prestigious nature of the award and the growing importance of ICTs in national development strategies.
The WSIS Project Prizes is an international contest developed in response to requests from WSIS stakeholders to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognize individuals, governments, civil society, local, regional and international agencies, research institutions and private sector companies for outstanding success in implementing development-oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs.