MANILA, Philippines—The country’s slow Internet connection speed, the slowest in the Southeast Asian region, is due to the lack of a central organization that heads the development of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, the head of an international IT enterprise service provider said.
“If you look at our neighboring countries, a lot of them have increased focus on ICT as a key ingredient of the government and the economy,” Ronnie Latinazo, Country Manager of EMC Corporation said during a roundtable discussion with reporters Tuesday.
“In the Philippines it’s not even a department level body. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a department or a commission, the point is we want someone looking at it from a holistic standpoint,” he said.
The recent 2014 Net Index rankings by Internet broadband testing company Ookla found that Philippines has the slowest Internet speed compared to the rest of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The Philippines has an average speed of 3.5 Mbps compared to Singapore (65 Mbps), Thailand (17.9 Mbps), Vietnam (13 Mbps), Cambodia (5.4 Mbps), Malaysia (5.4 Mbps), Brunei (5.3 Mbps), Myanmar (5.2 Mbps), Laos (4.3 Mbps), and Indonesia (4.1 Mbps).
“I think studies show that a country’s ability to adopt technology facilitates the development of the country economically,” Latinazo said.
He said that the development of the Philippine’s Internet infrastructure is not moving as fast as it should because of the scattered programs under multiple government agencies.
“Today portion of the program are scattered, so I think it’s very difficult to come up with a holistic end-to-end program to facilitate the overall development,” Latinazo said.
“It should be addressed and I think it’s being addressed except it’s not being addressed as fast as everyone wants to. We in the IT industry have been trying to advocate the roll out of faster projects in terms of infrastructure,” he said.
Latinazo also pointed out the lack of progress with a bill in Congress creating the Department of ICT (DICT), which has been filed and refiled several times in the past since the 13th Congress.
The bill consolidates the powers and functions of the Information and Communications Technology Office, National Computer Center, all offices under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) that have responsibilities in communications.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Philippines Postal Corporation (PPC) would also be attached to the DICT.
“We’ve been trying to support that initiative ever since but unfortunately it has not pushed through,” Latinazo said.
“It has come to a point where everyone has recognized that it’s not about having a ministry, regardless of level. It’s about having an organization that’s more unified and holistic, be it ministry, be it commission or person, but today there’s none,” he said.
Currently, the bill has been refiled in the 16th Congress as Senate Bill 2144 on February 26, 2014. It is presently pending in the Committee level.