Sen. Grace Poe criticized the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for its low utilization rate even as the agency asked for an additional P5.6 billion budget for next year.
The senator aired her dissatisfaction over the DICT during the Finance Subcommittee’s public hearing on the P8.7-billion proposed budget of the DICT and its attached agencies on September 19, 2023.
The DICT has only utilized P3.5 billion, or 25 percent, of its P13.9-billion budget for 2023. DICT Sec. Ivan John Uy presented the agency’s proposed 2024 budget before the Finance Subcommittee K.
Under the 2024 National Expenditure Program, the DICT and its attached agencies–Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center, National Privacy Commission and the National Telecommunications Commission–were allocated a total of P8.7 billion.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda asked the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center what the country needs to do to take the Philippines out of the list of most attacked countries by web threats.
During the hearing, Legarda expressed alarm over the recent Kaspersky Security Network online security report that the Philippines moved two places up in the rankings in 2022, just behind Mongolia.
“Are they attacking us economically in terms of military security or other dimensions? You know that, of course. You are taking this seriously and you are doing all those efforts that you’re doing.
What should we do to take us out of this (list)?” Legarda asked,
The senator then requested for an executive session on the matter.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian cited the importance of signing bilateral agreements with other countries to help deter cybercrimes.
He asked DICT officials what steps they are taking to remove the country in the list of most vulnerable countries to cyberattacks.
Uy said he hopes to get the necessary tools for identifying cyber criminals and malicious content.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito supported the increase in the budget of the DICT to improve its capability in going after cyber criminals.
Ejercito said he is willing to support the agency’s request for confidential funds to combat hackers and online scammers, who, he said, have become the “bigger enemy” of Filipinos.
He called for an executive session to ask officials about how they intend to spend the requested funding.
Gatchalian said he was shocked by the recent report that the Philippines is the second most vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
“A few weeks back, I saw in the news there’s a sexual exploitation of children case in Manila. I heard that it was a tip or information coming from abroad. In my mind, bilateral relationships with developed nations are important.
Do we have bilateral relationships with these countries formally? Because these are the things we enact quickly in order to improve communication and coordination,” Gatchalian said.