Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Procurement Act to be suspended for ARMM poll automation

Comelec to adopt a one system, one province setup

By Veronica Uy - INQUIRER.net
The Joint Congressional Committee on Automated Elections has agreed to provide legal cover to the poll body by suspending the Government Procurement Reform Act to pave the way for the automation of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao this August.

The suggestion, which came from Senators Edgardo Angara and Juan Ponce-Enrile, was accepted by Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, who initially told the upper house that the poll body won't be able to automate the ARMM polls for lack of time.

The two senators proposed to file a joint congressional resolution that would give everything the Comelec will need to automate the only elections before the 2010 presidential and senatorial polls.

In his presentation to the body, Melo said he and the other poll commissioners were wary of allowing bidders who have "substantially complied" with the requirements of both the Poll Automation Law and the Procurement Act to participate in the bid.

Of the eight parties that got bid documents from the Comelec, only one made it, forcing the Comelec to stop its plan to automate the ARMM polls. (The Procurement Act, which sets the policies and details the procedures for all government purchases, mandates that having a single bidder is equivalent to a failed bid.)

Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino, who is part of the bidding and awards committee, said they conducted another bid, which failed to attract more bidders. He said that for the automation to push through and based on their timeline, the bids should have been awarded by April 3.

Over and above the objections of the Advisory Council, Comelec thus abandoned poll automation in ARMM altogether and started to prepare for manual elections. The Advisory Council, which was created by the Poll Automation Law to recommend the technologies that might be used, recommended that Comelec proceed even with bidders who have "substantially complied."

Howard Calleja, who as official of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting is a member of the Advisory Council, explained that having a memory stick instead of a compact disk or a different-sized paper should qualify as having "substantially complied."

After the hearing, Melo said the poll body would re-open the bidding for automation in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sharif Kabunsuan, and Basilan on the suggestion of Makati Representative Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr. for a one system-one province setup.

Melo said he wanted to exclude Sulu and Tawi-tawi from poll automation as these provinces would not meet the basic technical requirements on power and accessibility.

Locsin and Angara noted the poll body's apprehension of not following the law to the letter after the numerous controversies, primary of which was the wiretapping case where the President was alleged to have called up a poll commissioner asking him to ensure a million votes lead over her rival. The poll body also received a lot of flak for the conduct of the 2007 senatorial elections in ARMM.

Aside from Melo, the poll body is now composed of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer, Romeo Brawner, and Moslemen Macarambon.

Members of the congressional committee alternately threatened, castigated, and appealed to the poll body to implement the automation law which was passed in 1997 and amended in 2007.

The congressional body refused to accept their explanation why it could not automate the ARMM polls or even Melo's proposal to postpone the ARMM polls.

Earlier, Enrile threatened to cancel the Comelec budget of P837 million for the ARMM elections if it would insist on not implementing the law and proceeding with a manual system.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan De Oro stressed the importance of conducting some form of automated elections before the 2010 national elections.

Melo will meet with the Comelec commissioners, its senior staff, and the various suppliers for the automated elections to discuss what they would need in the joint congressional resolution.

Senator Richard Gordon, co-chairman of the committee, said the body would meet with the Comelec again on Monday so that the committee could draft the resolution and enact it into law before May 11, the deadline for the Comelec to proceed with testing the equipment and software for the automation.

Labels: ,

LTO on 96th year launches two IT-aided programs

By Riza T. Olchondra - Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) marked its 96th anniversary on Thursday with the launch of two technology-aided innovations.

The LTO on Thursday signed a memorandum of agreement to interconnect its vehicle registration database with the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) payment database for imported vehicles.

The interconnection will enable the implementation of a second program, the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Project.

Under this project, registered vehicles will be issued RFID stickers that store vehicle data, including such details as whether it has an authenticated certificate of payment from the BOC and whether it complies with registration requirements such as low smoke emission.

For public utility vehicles, the RFID tag will also contain its franchise details from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

LTO chief Alberto Suansing said that aside from improving compliance, the interconnection and RFID projects are expected to help improve revenue for the agencies involved.

"Millions of pesos in potential government revenue are lost annually due to non-compliance with vehicle registration requirements," he said, adding the projects will help plug tax leakages.

Labels: , , , , ,

House bill filed vs ‘identity theft’ from Internet

Publishing a person's personal data retrieved from the Internet might soon be a crime, if a bill filed Thursday at the House of Representatives would be passed.

Under HB 3828, a stiff penalty will be imposed against "identity theft" and the "malicious" disclosure of personal information by the media without the consent of the subject.

In a statement, Camarines Norte Representative Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, who authored the bill, said the "increasing sophistication" of information technology has eased the access to other people's personal information.

"Computers linked together by high-speed networks with advance processing systems can create comprehensive dossiers on any person without the need for a single central computer system," she said.

If enacted into law, the reporter, editor-in-chief, publisher, manager, and president of a newspaper found guilty shall face a penalty of two years imprisonment and pay a fine of not more than P500,000.

People who reveal false information -- either obtained from a data controller or unknowingly transferred to them -- shall be jailed for six months and be fined for not more than P500,000.

Meanwhile, people who process the data without the consent of the persons concerned shall be charged with a 12-year imprisonment and a fine of not more than P3 million.

She also cited a survey that showed the call to enforce penalties for violating data privacy rights.

The bill includes the creation of National Data Protection Commission (NDPC) that shall register data controllers and processors and monitor the country's compliance with international standards on data protection.

Among the functions of the NDPC are: overseeing and monitoring the processing of personal data, stopping any breach in the data protection, ensuring that the rights of the data subject are upheld, and monitoring the compliance of other government agencies with security and encryption measures.

Rachel Hermosura - INQUIRER.net

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Radio, ‘older’ tech remain relevant in ICT for education

Unless universal broadband Internet access becomes available to all Filipinos, traditional technologies such as radio will remain a relevant tool in the delivery of education in remote areas in the country. This was the finding of a foundation helping local communities harness information and communications technology for education and learning.

Ten years after it was established, the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (Fit-ED) has also learned that providing Internet connectivity to schools is not always the appropriate option when it comes to implementing ICT for education programs, said Victoria Tinio, executive director of Fit-ED, in an interview.

Fit-ED has been running a project dubbed "Education for All Thru Radio (EFAR)" which has proven to be an effective way of delivering science training to primary school teachers, as well as to communities in remote areas where there is no electricity.

Fit-ED launched this project August 2007 with the Department of Education and Coca-Cola Co. through broadcast networks in the country, added Liezl Formilleza-Dunuan, senior program manager at Fit-ED.

A 16-part science literacy program was developed by the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development for the project. So far, the project has reached 400 schools in 11 school divisions across the country, thanks to the power of radio.

"We really don't want to neglect the older technologies that are still available," said Tinio, as she explained that Fit-ED's philosophy revolves around the idea that any successful ICT for education programs start with an "appropriate choice."

In the case of using technology to deliver training to teachers, radio was the unbeatable choice in offering science training to teachers in remote areas in the country.

"Unless we see universal broadband access in the Philippines, or even universal power, we'll continue to use radio and other traditional technologies," Tinio said.

Tinio stressed that ICT for education programs should focus more on the "educational goals" and not just technology. Technology, she pointed out, is one of many ways to deliver educational goals. In the case of the EFAR, radio proved to be the most cost-effective means.

For years, efforts in ICT for education have been focused on providing connectivity to schools, said Tinio. While this is also necessary, Fit-ED has stopped doing this in 2002 to deal with other projects that aim to deliver more impact on improving learning and education in the country, Tinio said.

"We need to be very clear why we want to bring technology into a learning environment. Educational goals don't change. Technology is just one resource to reach this goal," she said. By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

Labels: , , ,

Municipal employees create IT group to help other LGUs

Municipal employees and officers from several provinces in Luzon have set up a new organization that hopes to provide technical support to other local government units in the future, a co-founder of the group told INQUIRER.net.

The new group is an offshoot of the "E-governance for Municipal Development" project of the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), according to Ricardo Bobis, president of the eGov4MD, in an interview. Bobis is also the municipal treasurer of San Antonio, Zambales.

Bobis was part of a training program conducted by CESO in cooperation with several government agencies, which involved Canadian volunteers sent to help local government units implement open source-based systems. The project covered regions I, III and IV.

Bobis said the new group was originally an online technical support group for the project participants. It eventually evolved into a full-blown organization that aims to advocate e-governance in local government units, he said.

So far, the group has attracted more than 60 members from 33 municipalities in Luzon.

Members are mainly coming from the municipal treasury offices and the technical and information technology departments, he added.

"Our vision is to implement e-governance in all municipalities in the country," he said.

The group was created in August 2007, but was only recently registered with the Securities Exchange Commission as a legal entity, he said.

The group intends to become the "technical support" group for the CESO project, which has implemented three open source-based systems developed by the National Computer Center. These systems include the Real Property Tax System, Business Permit and License System and the Treasury Operations Management System.

EGov4MD recently proposed an eBay-like service, dubbed eDispose, designed to auction disposable LGU assets during a technology boot camp hosted by Morph Labs. By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EU seeks to protect children from video game nasties

Agence France-Presse STRASBOURG--The European Commission on Tuesday called for strengthened rules on video games, saying children should be protected children from the worst excesses of the multi-billion euro industry.

"All consumers need clear, accurate information to make informed choices. But this is particularly about children, some of the most vulnerable consumers in society," EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"Our clear message today is that industry and national authorities must go further to ensure that all parents have the power to make the right decisions for themselves and their child," she added.

Already public concerns that video games can cause aggressive behaviour, heightened by school shootings such as in Helsinki last year, have led some governments to ban or block video games such as "Manhunt 2," the commission said.

The EU's executive arm said that 20 of the 27 EU member states now use the PEGI (Pan European Games Information) system to age-rate games, which the European Union helped to develop.

However, four member states -- Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia -- have no system in place at all for video game nasties.

And while 15 EU nations have introduced legislation concerning the sale of video games with harmful content to minors in shops, only four -- Britain, Germany, Ireland and Italy -- have gone as far as to ban certain violent video games.

Now the commission believes the industry "must invest more to strengthen and in particular to regularly update the PEGI system so that it becomes a truly effective pan-European tool."

Brussels also called on the gaming industry to do more to publicize the PEGI system, to avoid confusion caused by parallel systems.

"Video games have become a strong pillar of Europe's content industry and are experiencing booming sales across Europe. This is welcome, but implies greater responsibility for the industry to ensure that parents know what kind of games their children play", Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, said.

She also called on EU member states and the industry to govern the sale of video games in shops "to respect the fundamental need to protect minors."

The buregeoning European video gaming sector is already worth half as much as the European music market and exceeds the cinema box office.

Adopted in 2003, PEGI labels provide an age rating and warnings such as violence or bad language.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Consolidated cybercrime bill to be filed this week

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

A consolidated version of a cybercrime bill will be filed this week, a state prosecutor has told INQUIRER.net.

"We're drafting an omnibus or consolidated bill. We're filing it this week," said Department of Justice State Prosecutor Geronimo Sy, in a telephone interview.

"This is everyone's responsibility," Sy said, as he pointed out that the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) is taking the lead in working for the bill in Congress.

CICT officials were unavailable for comment.

Last year, the DoJ created a task force to deal with cybersecurity issues in legislation and investigation. The group was created to pursue the e-government agenda, institutionalize a cybersecurity regime and implement laws.

Last year, Sy had said that the task force would work closely with the Council of Europe, a private organization, and local experts composed of IT practitioners and other stakeholders.

Among the top priorities of the group was to work for the passage of the cybercrime prevention act, which failed to pass in the previous Congress.

The task force was expected to work with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police.

Also last year, the CICT, DoJ and the Council of Europe agreed to work together on the cybercrime bill.

So far, the country has convicted two hackers under the exisiting Republic Act No. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Law.

Labels: , , ,

Globe offers Nokia's wireless e-mail service

By Lawrence Casiraya - INQUIRER.net

Mobile communications firm Globe Telecom has announced support for Nokia's Intellisync, a wireless e-mail service that competes with the Blackberry e-mail service.

Intellisync is initially available as a corporate service. Globe said the service will soon be available for non-corporate users.

Globe will charge each user P150 (in addition to regular subscription charges for postpaid accounts) for every two megabytes of data used. Per kilobyte charges will apply beyond that.

Aside from push e-mail, Intellisync also allows users to enter contacts and calendar data.

According to Globe executives, the service is also intended for mobile users who have web-based email addresses. Intellisync allows less data consumption than checking web-based e-mail such Yahoo or Gmail via a browser.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Online auction for disposable LGUs assets proposed

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

A group of local government employees is working on an online service that would auction the unused and disposable assets of local government units (LGUs).

Inspired by e-Bay, eDispose is a web-based service that local government units can enroll in for a fee. The service auctions assets, such as unused vehicles and obsolete computers, to the public, according to Robert Sagun, team leader of the project.

A copy of the group's business concept, which was also presented during the Morph Code event, indicated that under the Local Government Code, any assets to be disposed of that is considered valuable must be sold in public auctions to the highest bidder under the supervision of LGU executives.

The group said that it has no idea how many LGU assets are being sold every year.

Ricardo Bobis Jr., municipal treasurer of San Antonio, Zambales, pointed that San Antonio has about P3 million worth of disposable assets, including old computers, construction equipment, and unserviceable vehicles.

"If we assume that the 1,493 municipalities have the same value of disposable assets as San Antonio, Zambales, and then it's safe to say--in fact [it] might still be undervalued--that potential government revenues can amount to almost P5 billion. Such an estimate does not include disposable assets of cities, provinces and national government agencies," he added.

Bobis is also president of E-governance for Municipal Development Inc., a non-government organization that will run eDispose.

The group acknowledged that they will require "recognition" from the Commission on Audit for the project to be viable.

Currently, notices for the public auction of LGU assets are posted in at least three publicly accessible and conspicuous places. For assets worth more than P50,000, the Local Government Code requires notices of auction published twice in a newspaper of general circulation in a locality.

"The eDispose will act as an online market for LGUs wanting to sell their unused assets and for private buyers, such as recyclers, searching for quality-yet-inexpensive goods. As an auction facility, buyers and sellers have to register/subscribe for a fee to receive and use services provided by eDispose," said the copy of the group's business concept.

Sagun said that the group has also met with the National Computer Center for possible e-government funding.

The web service intends to collect P1,000 to 2,000 from each LGU as an annual subscription fee in return for advertising assets they want to dispose.

"It's a drop in the bucket," said Sagun who is also project officer of the E-Governance for Municipal Development Project of the Canadian Executive Service Organization-Philippine Partnership Branch, in an e-mail in response to queries from INQUIRER.net.

The web service also earns through commissions. About 10 to 15 percent of the value of the assets auctioned will go to the eDispose service.

"It's meant to support the group's operations, especially in the development of other e-governance systems beneficial to LGUs. The group will be functioning as a social enterprise, meaning most of its profits will be reverted back to LGUs in the form of other services," he added.

The group said that it has not done any formal market research.

However, there was "strong interest for such a virtual marketplace when we presented it to the 30 municipalities participating in our CIDA-funded e-governance projects," added Sagun.

Sagun said the eDispose project idea arose because of the existing dysfunctional and costly asset disposal system in the country.

Labels: ,

NBI exasperated over delay of cybercrime bill, hits CICT

Melvin G. Calimag - Manila Bulletin

An IT officer of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has lambasted the continued delay in the passage of the country’s cybercrime law, pointing out in particular the failure of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) to submit an industry-drafted amendment to strengthen a bill currently pending in Congress.

"We’re frustrated in our law-enforcement work because we cannot go after these cybercriminals. Every minute that passes without a law on cybercrime is always an opportunity for them to do what they want," said Palmer Mallari, executive officer of the NBI anti-fraud and computers crime division.

Mallari made the comment during the sidelines of a recent e-commerce forum sponsored by the Philippine Internet Commerce Society (PICS) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at the Ateneo Professional School in Rockwell Center, Makati City.

The NBI official was specifically upset when CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III delivered the event’s keynote and mentioned the agency’s current efforts to push for the ratification of a cybercrime bill.

"It seems all of these are for speech purposes and nothing concrete is being done," he said, adding that the NBI’s hands are tied in prosecuting IT-related offenses.

Mallari was indignant at what he said was the CICT’s inaction in submitting to lawmakers the amendments culled during a seminar on cybercrime held late last year.

The workshop he was referring to was the one sponsored by Microsoft Philippines that was attended by private and public sector representatives, including Catanduanes congressman Joseph Santiago, as well as foreign participants from the Council of Europe.

During the workshop’s conclusion, Santiago joined Roxas-Chua and Microsoft Philippines managing director Rafael "Pepeng" Rollan in signing a manifesto of support for a strong cybercrime bill.

Mallari said it has been almost six months since the amendments were turned over to the CICT, but the agency has yet to submit it to Congress through the sponsors of the proposed law. Before coming up with the recommendation, participants in the workshop met and discussed the needed amendments from July to November, he said.

But according to Roxas-Chua, the CICT has already formed a technical working group to firm up the amendments so it can be turned over to Congress. He, however, refused to indicate a definite date for its submission.

The technical working group is temporarily being headed by lawyer Teodoro Kalaw IV. He is standing in for fellow lawyer Claro Parlade, who is currently out of the country.

The Philippines desperately needs a law that will address emergence of new crimes such as cybersex and child trafficking. The country has an E-commerce Law, which was signed into law in June 2000 by former president Joseph Estrada, but this delves mostly on electronic evidence and penalties on common Internet offenses such as hacking and copyright violations.

Labels: , , ,

National open source user group meet-up slated in Cebu

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines--A national open source group meet-up is scheduled in Cebu to prepare for an Asian-wide open source conference in October, a co-organizer of the event told INQUIRER.net.

The idea of congregating local open source groups came about after Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) commissioner Monchito Ibrahim acknowledged the growing number of open source groups in the country, according to Bonifacio Belen, executive director of the Cebu Educational Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-IT), which is co-organizing the Cebu summit.

The CICT is a co-organizer of the Asian Open Source conference.

Belen said an Asian Open Source conference is expected to gather 14 countries also supporting open source.

The national open source meet-up will take place during the Philippine Open Source Summit also in Cebu from June 23-29.

Belen said the summit was initially labeled the 1st Cebu Open Source Summit but various sectors suggested the name change.

"We really need to go deeper and understand the business value around open source. Open source is now emerging as a venue for creativity," he said in an interview.