ICT takes backseat under Aquino administration

Summary:Right now as you read this blog entry, there's an ongoing impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate against Renato Corona, the country's top judge. This political exercise, which is being streamed live by various Web sites, is again being lapped up by the public.

Right now as you read this blog entry, there's an ongoing impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate against Renato Corona, the country's top judge. This political exercise, which is being streamed live by various Web sites, is again being lapped up by the public.

Meanwhile, with the country's legislators busy strutting their stuff before the national audience in preparation for next year's elections, ICT-related proposed laws such as data privacy, cybercrime, and DICT(Department of ICT) bills have been relegated to the background.

These crucial bills, which the international business community is closely watching, have been approved on third and final reading by the lower house, or House of Representatives. However, they cannot become a law without a counterpart bill from the upper house, which is the Senate.

But, with the senators clearly relishing their roles as judges in the impeachment court, the chances of these proposed legislations getting passed are now close to nil.

Thus, we're back at square one and going nowhere. And I'll be blunt enough to say that we have President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to blame for all these troubles.

Not only did he orchestrate the impeachment against Corona, which is now dividing the nation and consuming much of the limited government resources, Aquino has also failed to capitalize on the ICT gains we had in the past. Worse, he appears to have squandered or is in the process of squandering what the ICT industry has built over the years.

Just consider what Aquino did last year to the Commission on Information and Communications (CICT) when it was doing very well with its mandate--he dissolved it. What a stupid thing to do.

The CICT, which was headed by a Cabinet-level secretary, was replaced by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), a mere unit under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The ICTO, for some unfathomable reasons, has yet to make a major policy decision or project almost half a year after being organized.

To illustrate how things are utterly disorganized right now, I'm citing two instances that show the prevailing confusion in the government's handling of the ICT sector.

The first example, as first noted by National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) Chairperson, Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, was the perplexing statement of Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte that she will consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for comments regarding an anti-outsourcing bill filed in the U.S. Senate.

Was Valte not aware of the existence of the ICTO, which the president had created to supposedly take care of matters concerning the ICT industry?

The second example happened last Tuesday when I attended the formal launch of a call center facility in Sta. Mesa, Manila. Instead of someone from the ICTO gracing the event, an undersecretary from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) represented the government.

What does the DOTC have to do with call centers? Well, they have "communications" attached to the title of their department, but it's clearly way beyond its jurisdiction.

The misguided folks at the Palace, especially President Aquino, are wreaking havoc on the local ICT industry. I just hope this madness will stop soon and that he will come to his senses.

Topics: CXO

About

Joel has been a media practitioner since 1996, starting off as a reporter and eventually becoming editor of a pioneering IT trade newspaper in Manila. He is currently one of the content producers of a Manila-based developmental website.

About

Melvin G. Calimag is currently the executive editor of an IT news website in the Philippines. Melvin has been covering the local IT beat for the last 13 years. He is currently a board member at the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress), and also serves as a charter member with the Philippine Science Journalists Associ... Full Bio

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