It was late Friday afternoon when the press statement from the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) popped up in my inbox. It stated that President Gloria Arroyo has ordered the transfer of the Telecommunications Office (Telof) and communications units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) back to the CICT.
The presidential directive, Executive Order (EO) 780, was actually issued on Jan. 29 and became effective 15 days after its publication in a national newspaper. Unlike the previous EO, which took 16 months to be released so the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can revert to the CICT, everything seems to be in order this time.
It can be remembered that Telof and the communications units of the DOTC were first transferred from the DOTC to the CICT when the CICT was created in 2004 by EO 269, but was subsequently transferred back to the DOTC in 2007 by EO 603.
This is also the same route that the NTC took--it was transferred to the CICT, and then subsequently pulled out, and finally transferred back again. Now, the NTC, together with Telof and the DoTC's communications are all under the CICT.
In the same press statement, CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua said he was "ecstatic" about the transfer because the CICT has finally been returned to its original form. "The CICT has been severely handicapped in the pursuit of its mandate over the last few years because of the absence of the NTC, Telof and the communications units of DOTC," he said in the statement.
He added: "This recent transfer undoubtedly makes us better equipped to implement our initiatives, particularly in the areas of digital convergence and universal access."
Concurrent Telof chief and DOTC assistant secretary Lorenzo Formoso III will assume the position of CICT commissioner, alongside commissioners Angelo Timoteo Diaz de Rivera, Monchito Ibrahim, and Consuelo Perez. By the way, Formoso is the same guy that was implicated in the controversial National Broadband Network scandal. But that's another story.
Although seemingly elated, Roxas-Chua nonetheless said he still believes it is important for the CICT to become a department.
"While this recent transfer makes us whole again, we are still looking forward to the passage of Senate Bill No. 2546 creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology, so we will finally be established by law and have a greater sense of permanence," he stated.
Forgive me for being cynical, but I feel a little bit suspicious about these recent directives by Pres. Arroyo. Based on her record, it would be hard to imagine that she'd be doing these things without political considerations. She's probably cooking something.