Right to communicate is a basic human right -- Salalima

DICT has expressed its commitment to push for the implementation of PH's national digitization agendas

At a luncheon hosted by European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima stressed that the efforts of his office to deliver avenues of communication is set to address a basic human right. DICT is also preparing to implement the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) master plan to constitute the region as an ICT hub.

Secretary Salalima shared his agenda and priorities as DICT Chair, which include cyber security, data privacy, access cost and speed of broadband, donation of used computers by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-registered companies, incentivizing continued investment in the information communication technology (ICT)/business process management (BPM)/knowledge process management sector (KPMS), and skills development with an increased focus on STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics capabilities.

Secretary Salalima in his presentation also discussed the National Broad Plan. He said the Department is currently working on providing free WIFI for public places. They are also working on a portal for the countryside where rural residents can access government services easily.  Secretary Salalima said he envisions a hybrid system composed of both fiber optic/fixed lines and satellites. With that in mind, DICT is focusing its efforts on building and/or rehabilitating a north-to-south infrastructure. The end goal is to have a digitized interconnected government network. DICT also intends for the broadband network to be operational in a year. On the question of who and how it will be built, Secretary Salalima reiterated that the project will be coursed through public bidding. The department’s policy, with respect to awarding projects, is best quality at a reasonable price. Salalima also stressed that there will be no favoritism. Undersecretary Villalorente commented that they are also working on having the National Electric Grid complement this envisioned infrastructure. However, he notes that use of this grid is currently assigned or under a usufructuary agreement with a private company.

The DICT is a relatively new executive department that is tasked to plan, coordinate, and implement the national information and communications development agenda.  As a new department, its organizational structure has yet to be completed. The Department of Budget and Management has yet to approve personnel positions they have requested. The perception is that there is a lack of understanding or appreciation of these positions since they are quite new. Nonetheless, the DICT is on track on fulfilling the its mandate and the vision Congress had in mind when it created the department. The National Broadband Plan would promote universal access and ensure availability of information and communication services to inadequately served sectors. Further, with the sale of San Miguel’s assets to Globe Telecoms and Smart Communications including part of the 700 MHz spectrum internet is said to be faster. Lastly, admirable is the Secretary’s stance that he prefers assignments of frequency to best qualified telecommunications company. Indeed, fulfilling DICT’s mandate.