Last May 23 of 2016, former President Benigno Aquino signed into law Republic Act No. 10844—or the Department of Information And Communications Technology Act of 2015—and paved the way for a brighter future for ICT in the country.
The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is now in existence. With it, the determination to put more importance in developing and implementing Information and Communication Technology to better the daily lives of every Filipino. With it, the resolve to upgrade existing infrastructures, and to heavily promote the value of ICT in every aspect of human life. With it, the wish to be in competitive standing with other neighbouring countries in the realm of ICT.
Until now, the IT community is still abuzz with the possibilities that this bill can achieve.
Even with the recent change of administrations, led by President Rodrigo "Rody" Roa Duterte, the bill has not been muted. While the incumbent president’s efforts seems to be centered around his highly publicized and scrutinized campaign against illegal drugs use and distribution, it seems that RA Act. No 10844 falls in line with the rest of the chief executive’s plans to forge a better future for each and every Filipino, the most obvious being his endorsement of E-Government.
Section 2 (h) of RA Act. No 10844 states that DICT aims “To promote the use of ICT for the enhancement of key public services, such as education, public health and safety, revenue generation, and socio-civic purposes”, the premise of which E-Government takes after. It is also this premise that the president challenged all levels of government from the national level, to the local government units, and even to barangays, to use computers to speed up any government processes for the benefit of the public.
This is a reaction to the chronic sluggishness of processing times for many administrative documents, all of which are being done predominantly through paper-based means, and their application being limited to physical visits to assigned government offices, which in turn create congestion in these establishments.
Apart from this, the combination of the new administration and the bill have also led to is a growing drive to distribute ICT job opportunities all around the Philippines, most especially to non-urban areas. Part of the efforts of the new administration is to be more inclusive of the many regions of the Philippines by reducing the spotlight pointed at National Capital Region and giving equal focus to every province of the Philippines. President Duterte, hailing from Davao City, is determined to decentralize the power being wielded by NCR and, instead, distribute it as evenly as possible to every corner of the country; power, in this case, being in the form of opportunities such as business investments and most importantly—jobs.
The bill has rallied many top ICT agencies and organisations in the Philippines to direct their efforts to creating jobs outside of Metro Manila. One, notably, being the officials of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) who have committed to creating one million direct jobs and three million indirect jobs in the countryside by 2020. Currently, around 70% of the ICT Industry is found solely in Metro Manila, an almost saturation of opportunities, considering how all of these prospects are concentrated on a tiny portion of the country’s landmass. The rest of the industry is spread around the country, but with a concentration in highly urbanised areas. Considering NICP and other ICT organisations’ efforts, the ICT industry will expect a trickling down from Metro Manila to other provinces of the Philippines, moving from a “Manila Centric” orientation to one that is more balanced and geographically spread out. Again, this is all in the effort to adhere to the DICT’s responsibility of ensuring a “level playing field” and a "balanced investments between high-growth and economically-depressed areas”.
The other potential impacts this bill can have on the country is multitudinous, a pinch of technology applied to every kind of sector of society and the economy going a long way. It provides jobs, improves infrastructure, speeds up processes, and just adds convenience to many aspects of human life. With the new administration’s efforts—its vow of inclusivity married to the goals of the DICT—it can see the country and all its people into a better, brighter future.
Photo Credits: Edwin Tuyay/Asian Dragon Magazine, Rappler and Positivelypinoy.com