After much dilly-dallying, Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III did what was once unthinkable– signing Republic Act 10844 or better known as the DICT law, establishing Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
It is one of the most awaited pieces of legislation from the 16th Congress, both by the telecom, BPO and IT industry in the country.
The new law abolishes several agencies and transfer them to the newly created DICT, and renames the present DOTC as simply the Department of Transportation.
To be absorbed by the new DICT are the following: Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO); National Computer Center (NCC); National Computer Institute (NCI); Telecommunications Office (TELOF); National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI); and, all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with functions and responsibilities dealing with communications.
The new law provides for a six-month transition period from effectivity for the full implementation of the transfer of functions, assets and personnel. Meantime, it said,“… the existing personnel shall continue to assume their posts in holdover capacities until new appointments are issued.”
PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that as provided for in the law, the DICT shall be headed by a Secretary, to be assisted by three Undersecretaries and four Assistant Secretaries. The new law also provides that two of the three Undersecretaries and two of the four Assistant Secretaries shall be career officers. One of the four Assistant Secretaries shall also be a licensed professional electronics engineer.
Moreover, the law also requires that the Secretary, as well as the Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, have “… at least seven (7) years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology; information technology service management; information security management; cybersecurity, data privacy, e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector”.
But now that it is finally a law, what about that dilly-dallying? Why did it take long?
Here’s why PNoy sat on the measure and was ambivalent about pursuing the legislation.
The Department of ICT (DICT) started life in 2004 when Pres. Gloria Arroyo created the Commission on ICT (CICT) through Executive Order No. 269. It was created as a means for the eventual creation of the DICT. However, Pres. Aquino abolished CICT in 2011, declaring that DICT is not a priority.