Friday, February 27, 2015
MANILA-The chair of the Senate science and technology panel said a consolidated version of five bills creating a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be reported out for floor debates before Holy Week.
“Our timetable in the Senate is to pass it before it ends its second session year in June,” Recto, who is also the Senate President Pro Tempore, said.
“Insofar as the Senate is concerned, it will pass the DICT bill,” Recto said.
He believes the measure will also hurdle the House as the “leadership of both chambers, led by the Speaker and the Senate President, in several meetings, has deemed it a priority measure.”
“The marching order given to me by the leadership is to consolidate in the Senate the five bills – authored by Sens. Antonio Trillanes, Teofisto Guingona III, Loren Legarda, JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara – into one,” Recto said.
Recto described the DICT bill “as one of those ‘Groundhog Day’ measures, that predictably goes through the legislative wringer every Congress only to stall in the final round for lack of one final push.”
In the last Congress, both chambers passed the measure, but failed to convene the bicameral conference committee which would have reconciled the differences of the versions they had passed.
To prevent this from happening again, Recto said the Senate will finetune one area of the bill which has prompted “tepid support” from the executive – and that is to ensure that the proposed department’s organization will be lean.
“It will not create a huge bureaucracy, or burn a deep hole in the taxpayer’s pocket. It will be revenue-neutral, and will maintain, if not lessen, the present operating cost of the agencies which will be folded into it,” Recto said.
“For example, we’re trying to limit the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries. In the creation of regional offices, we won’t be making it mandatory. Why have a large physical office when one of its mandates is to promote e-governance?” Recto said.
Recto said senators recognize information and communications technology as the third utility, after power and water.
“It is also the third biggest source of dollars after electronics and OFW remittances. It is a growth driver. Every 10 percentage points in broadband penetration is said to boost the GDP by 1 percent,” he said.
On the public sector side, Recto said a government which spends P2.5 trillion a year “needs a DICT to get more bang out of the buck, and prevent bribe from being squeezed out of the peso.”
“We are now living in the electronic republic, where views of the sovereign are advocated online, and services must be rendered to them on the same platform,” he said.
“Permits, licenses, land titles should now be electronically-applied for, processed and issued. Let us leave to the MRT the exclusive franchise of organizing long lines,” Recto said.
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