- The Philippine Computer Society, composed of the country’s leading ICT professionals and practitioners from the business, academe and government sectors, believes strongly that both the government and the private sector should continue to have the freedom to choose either open source software or proprietary, commercial software. This is because the decision to choose one or the other -- or even both -- should be based on a careful assessment of the specific needs and objectives of an organization and not forced upon them by legal fiat;
- Both open source and commercial software have their corresponding merits and benefits that they bring to an organization's operations in terms of productivity, cost-effectiveness, mission-criticality, technical support, service level performance standards, and so on and so forth. The two kinds of software need not be mutually exclusive. In fact they can be used together in an integral and complimentary manner way, allowing a company access to the best of both worlds so to speak;
- By mandating the use of open source software, the government will effectively deprive itself and the public from making full and optimal use of software, which has become essential to a company’s viability and competitiveness. Organizations in both the public and private sectors would be forced to use software that does not exactly meet their needs but that they have to make do with because that would be as far as the law would allow. That would be tantamount to handicapping private companies in doing their business, rather than giving them the freedom and flexibility to survive and progress in an increasingly-competitive global business environment. It may also handicapped government agencies in delivering services to their respective constituencies. Moreover, billions of pesos have already been invested in the acquisition, training and use of contracted software. To mandate the use of open source would be tantamount also to throwing these investments down the drain, so to speak. Incidentally, Article III, Section 10 of the Philippine Constitution states that “No law curtailing the obligation of contracts shall be passed”. Since the license and use of proprietary, commercial software are covered by contracts, mandating the use of open source may be a violation of the aforementioned constitutional provision;
- The PCS is also not in favor of a certain provision in the bill declaring it unlawful for educational institutions to offer professional certification programs for proprietary software unless they also offer a similar certification program for FOSS. We believe that this is not only an encroachment on academic freedom – it adds additional burden and expense to schools that they may not be able to fulfill and may result in their closure. Longer-term, it could have the effect of reducing the number of schools offering such certification courses and limiting opportunities for Filipinos to take up certification programs that would assure them of guaranteed employment here or abroad;
- Passage of the FOSS Bill will also effectively isolate the Philippine ICT industry from the rest of the world where dynamic growth continues to take place precisely because an environment of freedom and competitiveness and protection for intellectual property rights exists in most other countries. At this time when the Philippines is finally making good economic progress, with ICT as one of its main drivers, the Philippines cannot afford to be put at a great disadvantage as the FOSS bill would surely do if passed into law;
- We strongly believe that Government policies should remain neutral and not show preference or bias towards certain operating and application systems over others. The government must protect freedom of choice and competition for it is through competition where innovation thrives and new, revolutionary products emerge.
In conclusion, the PCS is not against FOSS. On the contrary, the PCS is for encouraging organizations, government and private, to avail for themselves the best of both worlds. But what we cannot agree to is curtailing the freedom of organizations, including government agencies, government-owned and/or -controlled corporations, public elementary and high schools, and state colleges and universities, to decide for themselves the most appropriate and cost-effective software to utilize to address their needs. Thus, we pray that this freedom should not be taken away.