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Recto: Duterte has DICT to crack whip on erring Telcos

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that incoming President has, at his disposal, an entire department to crack the whip on telecommunication firms who fail to improve the speed of Internet download in the country.

Recto said that all  incoming President Rodrigo Duterte needs to do is hire the best man for the job, the best Cabinet Secretary for the newly-created Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), to ensure better services from telecommunication firms.

Recto, the principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2686 or the DICT Act of 2015, which President Aquino signed into law last Monday as Republic Act No. 10844, said that he fully support the incoming President’s plan to crack the whip on erring telcos even as he added that  hopefully, the newly-created DICT can live up to the task and serve as his loyal army that will win the war against inefficiency in the telecommunications sector.

Recto explained that the DICT is mandated by law to be the “primary planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating and administrative entity” of the Executive Department “that would develop the country’s ICT sector.”

“The creation of the DICT is necessary to have a dedicated premiere government agency devoted to developing and promoting a national ICT strategy,” Recto said.

Government agencies that will be absorbed under DICT include the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO); National Computer Center (NCC); National Computer Institute (NCI); Telecommunications Office (TELOF); National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI); and all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with functions and responsibilities dealing with communication. Also to be attached to DICT are the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), National Privacy Commission, and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC).

The Department shall be headed by a Secretary, and assisted by three (3) Undersecretaries, and four (4) Assistant Secretaries, all of whom should have at least seven (7) years of competence and experience in the ICT sector.

Qualified employees of the DICT shall be covered by R.A. No. 8439 or the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and other S&T personnel in the government,

“May this serve as a warning to erring telcos. The incoming President will have, at his command, a new department that is duty-bound to protect the interest of the electronic republic,” Recto said.

Duterte earlier declared that he would open the country to foreign telecommunication firms that could provide better service if the existing telcos would not do something to improve Internet connection and access.

“I will make it a public policy–the Internet connectivity,” Duterte was quoted in a press conference held over the weekend.

With an average household download speed of 3.64 Mbps, the Philippines ranked 176th out of 202 countries, according to a study last year by Internet metrics provider Ookla as cited in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

The local download speed is eight times slower than the global average broadband download speed of 23.3 Mbps.

The Philippines has also earned the distinction of having the second-slowest Internet speed in Asia.

Among 22 countries in Asia, the Philippines has a download speed just a tad faster than that of bottom-dweller Afghanistan, according to Ookla.

Despite the slow speed, Internet service in the Philippines is expensive, $18.19 per Mbps compared with the average of $5.21 across the globe.#