IT agency downgrade bad for BPOs, says Angara
Downgrading the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) to a mere office could imperil the country’s gains in the IT-business process outsourcing industry, Sen. Edgardo Angara said on Monday.
Angara added his voice to the clamor of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) to restore the agency to its former status.
NICP leaders asked President Benigno Aquino III to recall Executive Order No. 47, issued on June 23, which abolished the CICT and created an ICT office under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
Unlike the CICT which was chaired by an official with Cabinet rank, the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) is headed by an executive director with the rank of undersecretary.
Angara warned that the reorganization of the CICT into the ICTO would dramatically reduce the resources and attention given to the IT-BPO industry.
“This is an ironic move that sends the wrong signal to the industry about how much—or little—we prioritize ICT,” he said, describing it as a “sunshine industry” with huge potential for investment and job generation. “It deserves no less than a cabinet portfolio,” he said.
The senator, chair of the science and technology committee, said that the IT-BPO industry had clamored for the upgrading of the CICT to a department so that it could serve as a “one-stop shop” for their needs and concerns.
“The industry is at a crucial juncture and a DICT could help sustain its growth to bolster the economy,” he said.
The Business Processing Association of the Philippines has projected the BPO industry will generate $25 billion in revenues and employ 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.
“The CICT was formed as an interim measure since Congress has yet to establish a Department of Information and Communication Technology. But the ultimate goal has always been to create a DICT. This recent order is diverting us away from that goal,” he said.
Angara observed that the Philippines belongs to a minority in Southeast Asia, along with Laos, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar) and Timor-Leste—that remain without a department devoted to ICT.
The senator has refilled a bill seeking to establish a DICT.
In a letter to the President signed by 13 of its leaders, the confederation of ICT councils asked Mr. Aquino to recall EO 47.
The NICP, composed of 35 ICT councils in the country, claimed the abolition of the CICT would “cause major setbacks in the country’s ICT sector.”
The CICT was created on Jan. 12, 2004, by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under Executive Order 269 and was mandated to be the government’s primary policy-making and implementing arm in the promotion and development of ICT systems. With a report from Nestor Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas