DICT to make free Internet more accessible – official

MANILA, Philippines – Starting Thursday, June 9, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will no longer have an Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).

The ICTO is one of the offices which will be moved to the newly-created Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), as signed into law by outgoing President Benigno Aquino III last May 23.

"We join the ranks of other nations who see ICT as a strategic tool. With ICT now having the authority at department level, the country's push to catch up will be much stronger and its swing of benefit wider," said outgoing ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre on Wednesday, June 8, in Mandaluyong City.

According to Casambre, the new department will improve public access to ICT infrastructure by making free Internet available in government offices and public places, among others.

"Today our ICT agenda has a fighting chance to bring the country and the people into the global arena of the digital race," he said.

New agency, new admin

The DICT will officially begin operating under the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, as the law signed by Aquino set a 6-month transition period.

So far, Duterte has yet to name a DICT chief.

Casambre hopes whoever will be chosen to lead the new department will include digital integration of services as a priority.

"Why do we have to make Juan get the [government] services hard?" he said.

"A lot of our problems stem from antiquated laws. It is something that we should do for the first 100 days," Casambre added.

According to the 2015 State of Broadband report, the country ranked 106th out of 191 countries, with 39.7% of individuals using the Internet. Among 133 developing countries, the Philippines ranked 59th, with 26.9% of households with Internet. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.