Philippines DICT bill expected in law by year-end

Von Grace S.

Smooth sailing. This was how the author of the legislation creating the Philippines" Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) described the bill?s progress in the nation"s House of Representatives.

A very optimistic Simeon Kintanar, the congressman from the second district of Cebu, told attendees of Computerworld Philippines? Executive Briefing on Security that ?the DICT bill would, hopefully, become law before the end of this year.?

?There should not be any problem (in the Senate),? said Kintanar, ?unless senators will ply their own agenda.?

Kintanar, who drafted the DICT bill during the 12th Congress, is the chairman of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology which approved the legislation during its hearing last month. Already referred to the appropriations committee, the bill would be forwarded to the Committee on Rules which would then schedule it for final deliberation on the floor.

?We did not encounter major opposition during the committee hearing and discussion, so I am very optimistic about the Lower House?s support of the bill,? Kintanar said.

The DICT bill proposes to consolidate the ICT functions of various government agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The legislation also seeks to merge the DOST?s National Computer Center and the DOTC?s Telecommunications Office (Telof) with the new department. The National Telecommunications Commission and the Philippine Postal Corporation will likewise be placed under the DICT.

The Senate is expected to start its own deliberation and discussion of the DICT legislation. Kintanar said the senators could either come up with their own version of the bill or they could adopt the House?s version.

Cyber Crime

Aside from the DICT bill, Kintanar is pushing the passage of a cyber crime legislation that is expected to curb felonies perpetrated through the Internet.

?With globalization and the advent of new technologies, a number of new industries have spawned, including contact centers. This growth, however, is coupled with an increase in security risks. Contact center operators today are increasingly becoming concerned about the security and integrity of the materials they are using,? Kintanar noted.

The lack of clearly defined rules on cyber security has become a roadblock for customers eyeing to set up offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) operations in the country, he lamented.

?If we want to be competitive in the BPO market, we should have a clear-cut policy and strict laws on electronic crimes,? Kintanar stressed.

Kintanar, whose committee will conduct a public hearing on the cyber crime bill on May 25, urged proponents of the proposed legislation to rally behind it. ?If the advocacy is strong enough, then maybe the time has come for the cyber crime bill to become a law,? he said.