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DICT is not addition

/ 09:46 PM February 05, 2014

The president doesn’t want to create a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) because it will further complicate the bureaucracy, there are already too many departments, agencies, etc., etc. I couldn’t agree more; simplification of the bureaucracy should be top of his list in addressing the administrative governance of this country.

That’s one of the reasons why you MUST HAVE A DICT. Because a holistic computer system throughout government is an essential component of that simplification. Doing all processes online, removing paper (and filing cabinets) everywhere is essential to simplification. Computerization of all government services is an inevitable and desirable necessity for speed, efficiency, and accuracy of services. And to reduce corruption, as bribing is more difficult when the service is computerized. Instituting that system needs a focused, dedicated department as the system must be well designed and work together.

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That, quite simply, needs a full department with a Cabinet-level secretary with the full powers and budget necessary to run it. An agency with an undersecretary doesn’t have the power to do it. In the past I’ve suggested a solution: to close down some less important departments, and I can recommend several. But there’s been no response.

So here’s another idea, which I’m sure will be popular amongst many: Close down the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications). Its performance in recent times has been dismal—no reflection on Secretary Jun Abaya, who’s new to the problem.

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My suggestion is to assimilate the transport side of the DOTC into the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways); the synergy should accelerate and simplify the development of these sectors. Particularly desirable in attracting the private sector into the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program and in making it work seamlessly. All transport has one inevitable partner, the DPWH. You can’t move if you don’t have something to move on (a road) or move from and to (air and sea ports). And who builds those? The DPWH.

Then, and this is the clever part, put communications under a new department that REPLACES —no additional department—the DOTC: the DICT. All communication IS digital already, anyway; it IS part of the IT world, that fast-growing world that is going to dominate us ever more. Even your refrigerator will be communicating with you (texting you?) to tell you what’s in it—and what recipes you can use to cook with those ingredients. What next? Will computers tell me how to think soon? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Seriously, it seems to me this makes a lot of sense. It breaks the Gordian knot that has tied up any progress in creating a DICT.

Having a DICT is essential in today’s technological world.  It’s essential if the Philippines is to remain competitive against its neighbors.  It’s essential if it’s to remain in the game. It’s essential if the Philippines doesn’t want to be left behind once again. There’s a window of opportunity today that the Philippines does not enjoy often.

As I said in a special report last year on the subject (Why we need a Department of ICT, http://www.wallacebusinessforum.com/research-services/analytical-reports/wbf-special-reports). Information technology will dictate human lifestyles, drive industries, and shape societies in the 21st century. Computers, IT are more and more part of almost everything we do. Opportunities for growth and development abound for an economy that is IT-ready and has the fortitude to pursue the direction where it perceives it can be successful. Such a direction can be set by a roadmap, but a superbody needs to boldly oversee the orchestration of efforts, by both the state and private entities, to attain the vision in a sector as critical as IT.

The Information and Communications Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (ICT-BPO) sector is one of the most successful sectors of the Philippine economy today, and increasingly being ever more so. Mr. President, we need a DICT for the future of the Philippines.

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The Supreme Court, by not deciding on the petitions against the Reproductive Health Act, is placing itself superior to its constitutionally mandated coequal partners. And is denying the public its expressed wishes.

The public, 70 percent of it, a more than substantial majority, wants family planning, wants access to information and support. Congress obliged and passed a law to create family planning clinics and provide a wide array of RH services. The executive branch concurred and signed it into law.

Now the Supreme Court sits on it. It has a democratic obligation to move fast.

And to decide to take into account the wishes of the society it serves. The doctrine of “salus populi suprema lex esto” (the welfare of the people shall be the supreme law) is the fundamental objective that a democracy aims for. It applies to the Philippines, and the Supreme Court is obliged to respect it, yet it’s not doing so. It’s becoming the same with the TRO on the power price increase. By stopping the increase, it is creating a situation where brownouts can be expected in summer—unless it moves fast.

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Some senators seem to have forgotten (or have not ever known?) the difference between what is legally allowed and what is morally right. Jinggoy Estrada may well be legally allowed to give P100 million to the city headed by his dad, but it is morally reprehensible. Doesn’t he see that? There are provinces far more in need of his assistance if he truly cares for the nation and the impoverished. That’s where he should give his assistance.

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TAGS: Department of Information and Communications Technology, Like It Is, opinion, Peter Wallace. DICT
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