Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian has urged both houses of Congress to expedite the passage of a proposed law that aims to break into two entities the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) which has become too big to be handled by one cabinet secretary.
Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said the DOTC is such a big agency making it difficult for one person to handle both transportation woes and communications problems at the same time.
“Congress should approve this measure as soon as possible. One person can no longer manage this humongous department,” said Gatchalian.
The lawmaker was referring to Senate Bill No. 2686 and House Bill No. 6198, both titled “Department of Information and Communications Technology Act of 2015.”
The proposed measure will rename the DOTC Department of Transportation and create the Department of Information and Communications Technology(DICT), transferring to it the communications functions of the current DOTC.
“These separation of functions and the creation of a new agency is now a necessity given the recurring monstrous traffic jams and the regular glitches in the MRT-LRT system coupled with text scams and snail-paced internet connection cannot be handled by one department secretary alone,” said Gatchalian.
”And with the upcoming holidays, we can expect more traffic jams and internet connection problems,” he added.
Gatchalian pointed out that the current set-up in the DOTC is negatively affecting the economy since the Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya could no longer handle the multiple problems hounding his department.
“That the DOTC is handling both our transportation and communications problems is actually stifling our economic growth. It should just focus its resources and manpower on solving our transportation troubles so it can come up with progressive solutions and implement remedies suggested by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” said the Valenzuela City lawmaker.
A study by the JICA showing that the economy can face productivity losses skyrocketing to P6 billion a day by 2030 from the current P2.4 billion if no government intervention is made on Metro Manila’s traffic congestion.
The Senate and House bills also attach to the DITC the agencies for policy and program coordination such as the National Telecommunications Commission, the National Privacy Commission, and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center.The bills also mandate that a secretary, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries for the DITC be appointed by the President.
The following, meanwhile, will be abolished: Information and Communications Technology Office; the National Computer Center; the National Computer Institute; the Telecommunications Office, and the National Telecommunications Trainings Institute.
Under the Senate version of the bill, the DICT shall lay down the criteria and guidelines for the disbursement and management of the E-Government Fund which shall be used to fund projects that expand the government’s electronic activities.
HB 6198 has been received by the Senate last month while SB 2686 has been sent to the House for concurrence in June, data from the chambers’ websites showed. (Monica Cantilero)