Missing Piece in the Jigsaw

Since the pandemic shook the world, a crucial issue that has been overlooked, intentionally or otherwise, is the tracking of government fund and services using electronics.

In the delivery of social amelioration aids, following of state funds for COVID-19 and monitoring of overseas grants and remittances or the unbundling of fiscal anomalies, efficient technology is essential and therefore should take a front seat.

The creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) by the Congress touted as the answer to the country’s obligation to keep pace with global electronic advancement has hardly addressed such deficiency.

Since DICT was created under Republic Act No. 10884 signed on May 20, 2016 by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, there has been reluctance on the part of the Duterte leadership to fully exploit the agency’s potentials, giving rise to suspicion that anything associated with the past administration should not be glorified.

Underscoring this skepticism was the installation of an acting DICT secretary: the President had to wait for Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a native of Davao by virtue of owning a house at the posh Ladislawa Subdivision, until his Senate term expired.

Recently, DICT has been hogging the headlines a few times. When the issue about the third telco players were under scrutiny, it was at a forefront to give clarification on issues affecting interconnectivity. It was also on the lead of the issue of slow Wi-Fi connection.

In all these, however, DICT, which should be counted as one of the missing piece in the bureaucratic jigsaw puzzle, has not been up par in the performance.

Maybe this has something to do with very scant publicity.

But the truth is that it has not been actively connected to the public like the way the National Bureau of Investigation has been in, say, uncovering and dismantling online scams.

While it is true we do not have access to the inner developments happening inside DICT, the public should be told—transparency-wise—on what has transpired to the publicized national Business One-Stop Shop, the free countrywide public Wi-Fi connectivity, the national ID system, and the blended learning of the Department of Education. Given the agency’s status, it should redeem itself from the low scores it has earned.

For a country touted as the next Asian economic miracle, DICT must improve the country’s ranking in the world of connectivity.

But foremost, the Duterte leadership must accept the fact that the DICT is not the invention of President Aquino, but rather the initiative of the Congress.