DICT's defense over intel funds 'deceiving and unbelievable' – Rio

MANILA, Philippines – Former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr is not buying the explanation of the agency over the use of P300 million allegedly for cybersecurity purposes. He said the timeframe does not add up.

The DICT on Wednesday, February 5, said that the P300 million was disbursed in 3 tranches and was liquidated with the Commission of Audit (COA). It was also supposedly used for surveillance amid cybersecurity threats.

"The statements given by DICT are deceiving and unbelievable, obviously done by a lawyer and not a cybersecurity practitioner. It states that the use of P300 million that was given in 3 tranches from November to December was properly liquidated and accepted by COA. It would like us to believe that DICT was able to conduct a confidential operation for around two months, spending all P300 million and liquidating this amount within that two months' time," Rio said on Wednesday.

"Even assuming for argument's sake that this could be done, what can DICT show as a result of the operation that is worth P300 million?"

A retired Philippine Army general, Rio emphasized that while details of confidential operations cannot be divulged to the public, the results of such operations must be revealed.

Rio was also once a commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission during the Arroyo administration.

In the case of a cyberattack, Rio said DICT should reveal how many hackers and locations were identified or what types of malware were neutralized. These incidents are also supposed to be recorded by the National Computer Emergency Response Team.

DICT Secretary Gringo Honasan has yet to personally address the issues hurled by Rio, the agency's former acting secretary. (READ: DICT Secretary Rio: Don't replace me just yet)

A COA memorandum previously flagged DICT for underspending on projects, as the funds were used up as confidential funds.

Rio earlier said he resigned from his post as he felt "left out" of the planning for the use of the confidential funds. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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