A coalition of business organizations supports the creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to further consolidate the country’s position as an internationally competitive investment destination.
In a letter to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) said it has long supported positive reforms that seek to promote a national ICT development agenda.
The coalition recognizes the IT-BPM-KPM (information technology, business process management, and knowledge-based process management) industry as one of the pillars of the Philippine economy.
“By establishing a DICT, not only will the Philippines join over 80 percent of countries worldwide which already have dedicated stand-alone government bodies on ICT, it will also drive the modernization of business processes at a horizontal level and establish the necessary criteria for the Philippines to remain a global leader in the IT-BPM-KPM sector, through a number of overarching benefits,” JFC said.
E-governance can be implemented more effectively at a national level under a DICT. This will result in increased transparency, efficiency, clarity for foreign investors and a significant decrease in the administrative burden for companies, which will in turn encourage compliance through easier processes, the group said.
Data protection is becoming ever more important as global market trends and stringent international regulations make international companies unwilling to risk investment in countries with no data protection framework, JFC noted.
While the Data Privacy Act (DPA) was enacted in 2012 in the Philippines, it has still not been implemented. The law mandates the creation of a National Privacy Commission (NPC) under the DICT.
While the creation of a DICT is pivotal to the full implementation of the DPA and the establishment of the NPC, there is a legal basis to attach the NPC to the Office of the President, pending the creation of a DICT, pursuant to Section 42 of the DPA, JFC said.
“We therefore strongly urge the government to act without further delay on this important provision,” the group said.
It said that cyber security will also become a priority under a DICT, noting that the formulation of a strong protection and enforcement framework against cybercrime is of key importance in terms of investor protection and goes hand in hand with the future growth potential of service outsourcing sectors as it becomes an ever bigger concern for companies worldwide.
The recent compromise of United States federal government files on 21.5 million persons is yet another example of the global vulnerability to hostile hackers which can easily happen in the Philippines, the group warned.
Increased efficiency and a reduction of costs for the government will also be a direct result of the establishment of a DICT, whose primary mandate would include rationalizing and unifying the management of relevant government ICT-related functions and programs which are currently assumed by numerous agencies.
“In this context, we urge the House of Representatives to pass the corresponding measure of the DICT bill already approved by the Senate, with the objective to ratify the bill before the end of the 16th Congress. The establishment of a DICT will ensure that the Philippine business environment can enjoy the benefits of one more landmark bill before the end of the current administration,” JFC said.
“In addition to our full support for the establishment of a DICT, we would like to reiterate that the foreign business community in the Philippines is wholly committed to actively supporting the implementation of a future DICT law, to ensure that the creation of a DICT translates into overarching benefits for the competitiveness of the Philippine economy at a regional and global level,” the coalition added.