COTABATO CITY – To elevate the region’s information and communications technology (ICT) landscape and recognize outstanding achievers and athletes, three measures have been filed in the Bangsamoro Parliament.
The first of these bills aims to create the Bureau of Information and Communications Technology (BICT) under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, while the two other bills seek to honor Bangsamoro topnotchers and athletes through cash incentives and recognition.
With the introduction of the Bangsamoro Bureau of Information and Communications Technology Act of 2023, MP Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, the bill’s primary author, advocates for the establishment of the BICT as the central hub for ICT policymaking, coordination of initiatives, and strategy implementation.
“It is high time that ICT becomes a focal point in the progress of the Bangsamoro, with the Bureau empowered by law to formulate strategies to improve the ICT status of our region,” said MP Loong.
Highlighting the pressing need for ICT advancement in the region, MP Loong cited that the 2019 National ICT Household Survey revealed that BARMM had the highest number of communities without cell phone signals among all Philippine regions. Additionally, the survey indicated that only 13.2% of respondents used the internet in the last three months, while a mere 4.5% had broadband internet at home.
Under BTA Bill No. 211, the BICT’s powers and functions will encompass various critical aspects, such as developing regional policies, plans, and programs for ICT, prioritizing the establishment of ICT infrastructure in underserved areas, and ensuring cybersecurity to safeguard both government and citizen interests.
The bill also outlines provisions for free internet access in public areas to facilitate the ICT development agenda for the benefit of the Bangsamoro people.
The provision of free internet access in all public areas of the region is also codified to implement the said bill and make it a priority for the benefit of the Bangsamoro people.
Once approved, the Bangsamoro Information and Communications Technology Office (BICTO) will be abolished, and all its
powers and functions, resources, and personnel will be transferred to the newly formed BICT.
The BICT will establish provincial offices across the administrative provinces in the Bangsamoro region to ensure effective and comprehensive ICT development.
Meanwhile, more Bangsamoro lawmakers are supporting the recognition of Bangsamoro topnotchers and athletes in national and international sports competitions.
MP Loong introduced BTA Bill No. 207, which aims to institutionalize the recognition of Bangsamoro individuals who attain top ranks in professional licensure examinations.
The bill specifies cash incentives for the top ten achievers, ranging from P100,000 for the top three, P75,000 for ranks four to six, and P50,000 for ranks seven to ten.
It aims to not only reward excellence but also encourage and inspire students to excel in their academic pursuits, leading to a more competitive and skilled workforce in the Bangsamoro region.
The third bill, BTA Bill No. 208, or the Bangsamoro Athletes Incentives Act of 2023, seeks to honor outstanding athletes who bring pride to the region through exceptional performances in national and international sports competitions. Under this bill, cash incentives will be provided to athletes who secure gold, silver, and bronze medals, even if they are not officially part of the Bangsamoro training pool.
The Bangsamoro Sports Commission and Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education will be responsible for reporting the benefits, privileges, and incentives provided to Bangsamoro athletes to the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and Management for monitoring the implementation of the bill.
MPs Atty. Laisa Alamia, Benjamin Loong, Engr. Baintan Ampatuan, Atty. Rasol Mitmug, Amilbahar Mawallil, Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Rasol Ismael, Atty. John Anthony Lim, Jaafar Apollo Mikhail Matalam, Michael Midtimbang, Hatimil Hassan, Tawakal Midtimbang, Albakil Jikiri, Abdulazis Amenoden, Nabila Margarita Pangandaman, Denmartin Kahalan, Mohammad Kelie Antao, and Abdulwahab Pak co-authored the said bills. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)