DICT
Composite photo shows Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (R) and former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. (L).
The STAR, Facebook/EliseoRio
DICT's Rio, Honasan set aside ‘differences’; agree that confidential funds are ‘lawful’
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - February 7, 2020 - 5:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid a reported feud between the two officials, Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II and former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. on Friday agreed that the agency’s disbursement of P300 million in confidential funds was “lawful and legitimate.”

In a joint statement, Honasan and Rio said the DICT’s confidential expense “went through the rigorous process of approval by both houses of Congress and ultimately by the President himself.”

The statement’s conciliatory tone was a stark contrast from tense developments earlier this week ignited by Rio’s revelation that the DICT misused such funds.

Rio, who recently quit his post, earlier flagged the DICT's spending on surveillance, which he said is not included in the mandate of the agency.

A veteran of military communications, Rio said the function of the DICT’s cybersecurity office is to secure the country from cyber threats, not to engage in intelligence activities.

Honasan put the controversial amount in the agency’s budget when he was still a senator, Rio previously said.

Rio, who led the entry of a third telco player in the country when he briefly took over as acting DICT secretary, had warned that such funds are not subject to regular audit. CNN Philippines earlier this week reported that state auditors have called out the DICT after “[c]ash advances worth P300 million have been reportedly released to Secretary Gringo Honasan in late 2019, charged against the confidential funds” of the agency.

In the joint statement, the two officials said Rio’s remarks “may have been misinterpreted.”

“The use of the Confidential Expense is for lawful monitoring and surveillance of systems and network infrastructure only,” Rio and Honasan said.

“It is not used for the monitoring of individuals and persons since that is not part of the Department’s mandate,” they added. “We put aside whatever differences we may have, and we shall work together to achieve this goal.”

Senators have said the Senate may look into Rio’s allegations.

DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY ELISEO RIO GRINGO HONASAN
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