October 13, 2011
Abigail L. Ho
The bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology was approved yesterday at the House of Representatives on second reading bringing the country closer to having a separate agency focusing on ICT development.
Industry stakeholders welcomed the development as the bill was now closer to becoming a law Under Philippine legislative procedures, the second reading is the most crudal as it is during this step that all the details of the bill are debated on, discussed and amended. It is also during this step that legislators vote on whether or not this should be passed.
"The approval of the DICT bill on second reading at the Lower House is another attraction and positive signal to investors in the [information technology and business process outsourcing] industry," said Martin Crisostomo, executive director for external affairs of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.
"More importantly, it is a big step to having a dedicated department for the industry which would be instrumental in achieving our goal of creating 800,000 new jobs in the next five years," he added.
After being approved on second reading, the DICT bill would now be calendared for third reading and subjected to nominal voting. If passed, it would be transmitted to the Senate.
If the House version is compatible with that of the Senate, approval would be faster as there would be no more need to call for a bicameral conference committee. Ultimately, both chambers will have to give their approval for a bill to become a law.
A version of the DICT bill was introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Edgardo Angara.
The National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) urged senators to also give their nod to the bill dting the advantages of having a DICT and the disadvantages of not having one.
"We wish to respectfully apprise you that without a DICT, we strongly believe that programs and projects to maximize ICT as a tool for sodal and economic development, education, health, governance, environment and other concerns will never trickle down to our cities and provinces," NICP chair Jocelle Batapa-Sigue said in a letter sent to senators late last month.
The European Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also a staunch advocate of having a DICT, saying the country stood to gain millions of dollars in investments and hundreds of thousands of new jobs if a permanent department formulating ICT policies and implementing ICT strategies would be created.
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer; Business; 13 October 2011