Industry blog: With CICT gone, gov't calling out just anyone

Friday, January 06, 2012 12:00 AM    Views : 2696by:Jocelle Batapa-Sigue


Yesterday, I read with great interest a story entitled US bill on outsourcing will have impact on PH: Palace that came out in I hope you can click on the link and go through the story first before proceeding to read my piece.

Now that you've done that, let me say that similar anti-outsourcing bills have been blocked in the US Senate several times back in 2010 and 2011.

This is not a new news. I remember being interviewed about a similar bill in 2010 by local media when I was city councilor of Bacolod.

This should not have surprised Malacanang  they should have taken this into consideration when they decided to abolish the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). This single action rendered much damage to the already thriving the ICT sector  a product of a decade of efforts of all ICT stakeholders in the Philippines.

The Philippine government  instead of reacting to this new bill  should have strengthened the Philippine BPO industry, which is a significant part of the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) 2011-2016 crafted by all stakeholders from the private and public sector for almost a year.

The PDS which was to be presented as a new guide to the Aquino administration was initiated by the CICT, which was abolished by Pres. Aquino on June 2011 during the National ICT Month Celebration.

The PDS contained areas on transparency and e-governance, Internet access and reliable infrastructure, ICT for education, BPO and regional developments, and many more.

At the helm of the strategy, which effectively and timely substitutes the BPO Roadmap 2006-2010 of the Arroyo administration, was the CICT.

With her statement that she will consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte forgot that Executive Order 47  which scrapped the CICT  placed BPO concerns under the new Information and Communications Technology Offiice (ICTO) under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

EO No. 47 downgraded the importance of the ICT sector to non-cabinet level in the midst of all international developments and the Asean ICT Masterplan 2015 which consolidates the efforts of all Asean countries to leverage ICT collectively as a region for economic development.

The first order of the day for Valte is to request the president to re-institute CICT or to push the DICT bill as a priority legislation.

One of the points raised under the US bill is data security and incentives to start-ups. These issues are provided for in the DICT bill. The Philippines remains to be among the last two or threee countries in Southeast Asia without a DICT.

India, for its part, has started to explore rural areas and other classes of their population for ICT jobs, creating multiple urban growth centers for BPO.

On the contrary, the Philippines, has not seriously and officially assisted alternative BPO growth areas for the last several years, except with some efforts from the CICT and the industry.

The success of Metro Cebu, Metro Clark, Davao, and small cities like Iloilo and Bacolod are brought about by the partnership of local stakeholders, who from time to time relied on the initiative of CICT to bring everyone in the loop despite the fact that it is but a small commission and not a department.

EO 47 reduced this small commission further with the creation of the ICTO under the DOST, with only an executive director heading the office.

With this development, which India, with a cabinet-level ICT department perceives to be a concern  I am begging the president to reconsider having abolished CICT.

I believe cost should not be the issue as there are other commissions and agencies which can be abolished for being inutile. If cost and down-sizing were the issue how come until now other agencies have not been affected? The perception is CICT was exclusively singled out.

The CICT is a different scenario  with only one secretary and 4 undersecretaries  is still a far-cry from the more than 20 secretaries, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries that Malacanang has for its own.

Now is the time to be magnanimous  I beg the President to heed our call  restore the CICT, which is the lead convenor of the PDS, to get the PDS going and to put us back in the Asean ICT Masterplan or signify the DICT bill as urgent in the Senate for the remaining last 16 months before the 2013 elections.

On the said US bill  it does not ban relocation of outsourcing companies; it only seeks to discourage it. But with the competitive edge of the country in all dimensions, which has already been identified by CICT, the Philippines will continue to thrive.

Besides, the US market may be big but the Philippine can focus more on high-level jobs as well as requirement of other countries, which when pulled together could well equal the volume of US investments in the Philippines.

Besides, with a CICT or a DICT, the body can effectively assist and, in fact, help the president seek clarifications and prevent the passage of the bill.

The Philippines might sound again like a crying baby  shouting SOS left and right, to DFA, DTI, (ICTO) and whoever  but who may not be the proper aggrupation to correctly support the stand of the Philippine government in this issue.

If Pres. Aquino heeds the call of the industry, I am very sure he will be remembered as the man who saved the IT-BPO sector long after his term.

The author, a lawyer based in Bacolod, is the chairperson of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP)




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" Diosdado Banatao, an engineer from Cagayan, Philippines, pioneered graphics acceleration, introducing the world's 1st graphical user interface (GUI) accelerator. He also contributed designs like the ethernet, a networking protocol plugged into PCs. Asian-Indian Vinod Dham made the Pentium chip for Intel and the K6 processor for AMD. "

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