Senator Edgardo J. Angara rallied support from stakeholders in the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector for the enactment of three ICT bills during the 1st General Membership Meeting for 2012 of the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA).
Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, is the main author and sponsor of the Cybercrime Prevention Act (SBN 2976), the Data Privacy Protection Act (SBN 2965), and the bill (SBN 50) calling for the reorganization of the communications-related agencies of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) into a separate entity called Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
“All three have passed in the Senate. Save for the Cybercrime Prevention Act, they are just waiting for the so-called bicameral conference committee where [members from the Senate and the House of Representatives] shall sit down, get together, thresh out some more details and make some changes to harmonize the different versions,” explained Angara.
“After all this, that’s when we will have the three bills ready for signing by the President. In a way, we in the legislature are very close to the finish line to these innovative laws.”
The veteran lawmaker then emphasized, “But I think [the ICT] industry must take a clear-cut stance on these matters. You cannot sit on the fence, and just see how it will all play out.”
Angara, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), expressed confidence that issues surrounding the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Protection Act will be easily resolved.
“But what is problematic, I think, is the DICT. And many of you, when I started this advocacy, have already seen the in-fighting that such a law can cause,” stressed Angara, noting that various versions of the bill have already been filed in earlier Congresses.
“People asked, ‘Are we not putting another layer into an already ‘over-layered’ government? ‘No,’ I said. ‘We’re just putting [the communications agencies] under one umbrella. We’re not changing their budget. We’re not changing personnel. We are just putting them under one direction so that like many other countries in the world we have a body that will lay out the framework, the roadmap on how ICT can be developed.”
The former UP President continued, “If you think that such a central agency is needed so that e-government, e-learning, telemedicine and other ICT-enabled initiatives all become reality, then you must support this.”
He then concluded, “There’s so much to be proud about your industry, but you must also help yourselves and get the right policies rolled out by the right agency. So fight for what you think is right, because if you don’t, no one might ever champion your cause again.” (30)