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Press Release - Cayetano bids for more cyber security experts to join government

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to hire more cybersecurity experts amid the growing threat of hacking and data breaches in the country.

This after the DICT and a number of government websites such as that of PhilHealth, the House of Representatives, and the Philippine Statistics Authority were defaced back to back by hackers within the month of October.

"Are there enough cyber security experts in the DICT and in government? Baka kasi may fund na ibinibigay for counter attacks, but there are not enough experts in government." Cayetano posed this question to resource persons during Wednesday's hearing (October 25, 2023) on cybersecurity and e-governance under the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, which he chairs.

Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center Deputy Executive Director Mary Rose Magsaysay told Cayetano that they currently have 55 experts among their personnel, mostly cyber technologists, who are the best of the best people they know. She however admits that this is not enough manpower.

"In general, kulang pa rin hindi ba? At kahit may mga ICT expert, it's another issue of getting them into government dahil maraming nagpupunta abroad at sa private sector," Cayetano said.

DICT Spokesperson Renato Paraiso responded that such is the case because of a big disparity in pay between government employees and of private sectors.

Cayetano acknowledged that this is a very legitimate concern since there are people who will be pirated for better pay.

"We can't blame them for wanting to provide for their family. It's not for everyone, but there are really hot career choices na kung hindi tayo makipag agawan sa gobyerno ay mapupunta sila sa private sector o abroad," he said.

In asking the Philippine National Police about their cybersecurity personnel, Cayetano also discovered that their program budget is far from ideal since their 2024 budget for the Information System Strategic Plan (ISSP) for 2023 to 2025 is at least P100,000 per region only.

"It's a good start... pero mas kumplikado rin pala [ang hiring] sa PNP. Ang sweldo kasi nila ay parallel to the rank. Kung may