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Brief Policy Review: Past and Current Administrations

Ma Cristina B Exmundo, 6 June 2012 Even before the boost on ICT Revolution in 2000, the Philippines has been inching its way to be an ICT-based economy. a. ICT Policy and Legal Framework Marcos Administration Pres Marcos established the National Computer Centre under Executive Order No 322, s June 1971 as a joint project of the Presidential Economic Staff, Department of National Defense and the National Science Development Board. The NCC was mandated to develop and establish a National EDP Coding Standard. It entered into a MOA with the UP in 1973 for the purpose of establishing the Computer Institute of the Philippines and developing the courses of the institute. Presidential Decree No 1480, s 1978 restructured the NCC and expanded its mandate to place it in charge of preparing and updating the 10-year National Computer Development Programme for the government. Aquino Administration (1986-1992) With the restoration of democracy, IT21 was launched in February 1988 to guide the nations ICT development to the early part of the 21st century, and set time frames for the achievement of NITP 2000, which included laying the IT infrastructure, pervasiveness of IT in daily lives by 2005 and making the Philippines as a Knowledge Centre in Asia by the 1st decade of the century. Ramos Administration (1992-1998) Executive Order No. 190, s 1994 created the National Information Technology Council (NITC), as amended by EO 469, s 1998 and EO 125, s 1999) as a policy recommendatory overall coordinating body under the Office of the President, for the development of ICT capabilities in the Philippines. The NITC was mandated to implement the National Information Technology Plan (NITP) 2000 as part of the MTPDP Under Administrative Order No 332, s 1997, IT21 sought the development of the government information infrastructure through RPWeb connecting all government agencies and eventually the academe and households With the boost in the internet and its impact in commerce, Executive Order No 468, s 1998 was issued creating the National Council for the Promotion of Electronic Commerce (NCPEC) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Among its mandate is the formulation of national programmes and strategy for the promotion of electronic commerce in the Philippines. Estrada Administration (1998-2001) Executive Order 264, s 2000 as amended by EO 18, s 2002, overhauled the organisational structure and ICT strategy of his predecessor through the merger of NITC and NCPEC and in its

place the establishment of the Information Technology and Electronic Commerce (ITECC) under the Office of the President to oversee the implementation and updating it IT21, the Government Information System Plan (GISP) and other plans, and formulation and promotion in Congress of strategies for the application of ICT and Electronic Commerce. The GISP was approved in 2000 was approved for the first time the nations master plan for ICT in government. As the IT component in the MTPDP 1999-2004, it consequently provided for framework and guide for computerisation of key frontline and common services and operations of the government. This was adopted through Executive Order No 265, s July 2000. One of its specific goals was to provide every Filipino organisation and foreign investors with online access to government information and services. The plan was not implemented due to the political disruption of 2000 and the change of leadership in 2001. Republic Act 8792, s. 2000 (E-Commerce Law) was enacted It helps address significant challenges faced by Filipinos that The E-Commerce law addresses the significant legal challenges facing Filipinos who wish to participate in wealth creation, that validly and legally recognises e-documents, e-signatures and e-transactions, their admission as evidence in cases of disputes and the prohibition and punishment of unauthorised access to information and interferences in communication system, i.e. hacking, introduction of viruses, phishing, etc. Arroyo Administration (2001-2010) Pres Arroyo reorganized the ITECC through Executive Order No 18, s 2001, with the President of the Republic of the Philippines as Chair and its members included the heads of agencies of the DTI, DOST and National Telecommunications Commission, DBM, DepEd, DILG, CHED and private sector representatives. This consequently resulted to capability building and human resource policy initiatives. Among others, relevant are the following: DOST updated its National Science and Technology Plan 2002-2020 identifying ICT as one of its priority areas of S&T Development with one of goals for Filipinos to have world class ICT capabilities by 2010 CHED issued a Memo Order No. 25, s 2001, on the Revised Policies and Standards for Information Technology Education that laid down requirements for facilities, faculty qualifications and Basic Core and Major subjects of IT courses conferring three (3) types of degrees: BS Computer Science, BS Information Technology and BS Information Management. The CHED also developed the Medium-Term High Education Development and Investment Plan 2001-2004.

However, of the pressing recommendations of the Council was the immediate creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), to effectively coordinate and implement national ICT programmes, projects and related initiatives as a legislative priority. In view of the long waiting time for the passage of the DICT bill, ITECC recommended the creation of a national ICT body to be headed by a cabinet rank as a transitory measure to streamline and harmonize the management, coordination and implementation of various ICT related plans and policies.

Through Executive Order 269, s 2004 Pres Arroyo abolished the ITECC and created the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). It was mandated to implement the various ICT-related plans and policies of the government. It effectively placed the Telecommunications Office (TELOF) and other operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with direct support to communications, and National Telecommunication (NTC) and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) as attached agencies. The NCC and the TELOF were to assist the Chairman of the CICT. Eventually the DOTC would be renamed as the Department of Transportation. Reinforcing the EO 269, Arroyo then issued Executive Order 780, s 2007 transferring the direct supervision and control of TELOP and other related units of the DOTC to the CICT. Aquino Administration (2011-incumbent until 2016) With the DICT not a priority legislation , the Aquino administration issued Executive Order No 47, s 2011 reorganizing the CICT into the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) and transferring this, as well as attached agencies NCC and TELCO from the OP to the DOST headed by an executive director with the rank of an undersecretary. The NTC and PhilPost were however retained under the OP. Shortly before the CICT just launched its Philippine Digital Strategy 2011-2016. Being contemplated is a Philippine National Cybercrime Council under the Office of the President ahead of the enactment of a Philippine Cyber Crime Law of 2012. b. Policy Gaps For the last thirty years the Philippines has one enacted ICT-related law, i.e. the eCommerce Act which for the law enforcement may appear narrow to the increasingly emerging crimes using the digital technology as a knee jerk reaction following the dissemination of the I Love You virus uploaded from the Philippines but destroyed files and stole passwords in different parts of world. (Goodman and Brenner) With the act being retrospective, the perpetrator escaped justice. Effective law enforcement would surely be complicated with the transnational nature of cybercrime. Developing operational capabilities, let alone skills in digital forensics for the analysis and collection and the like poses a challenge for the Philippines which until now still not fully ICT-capable in this new age of Information Revolution. Because the crime is transnational, multi-state institution cooperation would definitely be necessary. What is even more apparent from the foregoing discussion of Philippine ICT-related policies is the appalling state of ICT in the country. The bureaucratic tendency of the Philippine government is to treat ICT development as an organisational set-up, again indicative of the constraints in governance that further promotes turfing and rent-seeking interests. This is apparent in the disregard of the current administration to previous plans and policies that may not be performed in a well-focussed manner as a consequence of the transfer of CICT, now called the ICTO to the DOST. Past policies have the aim of ICT being led by government. However, as it now appears and in terms of curtailing cyber crimes, concerned government offices including the Intelligence Sector would have to build networks with the private sector which definitely have gained the advances in the information technology. Despite the absence of legislation, how much ICT has improved or affected otherwise the lives of the Filipino cannot even be measured because it

takes the Philippines to rely surveys or studies from abroad, instead of generating the necessary information in the country. Given the limitless technological advances in ICT, the Philippines must be able to regulate the extent how the technology is being used in perpetuating cybercrimes. It cannot do so without any laws on protecting data privacy. As said, ICT is an enabling technology that has impact on socially empowering or equalizing the common citizens right to information. Information management of the country has to be further refined and balanced with the need for safety and security. All these gaps in the countrys policies require legislation which should already be found a necessity rather than an aberration in the present-day Information Revolution. c. Recommendation Support as urgent legislation the proposed laws on the creation of Department of Information Communication Technology, the Prevention of Cyber Crimes, Data Privacy and Freedom of Information.