DICT usec says Salalima misquoted on ‘interference, corruption’ statement

By Edd K. Usman

Rodolfo “Rudy” Salalima, who recently resigned as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), did not “actually say there was corruption” during his farewell speech to employees of the agency.

DICT undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

DICT undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

DICT undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. made this clarification during an interview with journalists on Friday, Oct. 6, at the sidelines of the “4IR: 4ASEAN and 4theFuture” event in Makati City organized by Microsoft and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore.

Salalima, a former top official of Globe Telecom, submitted his letter of resignation to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in early September, citing “personal and work-related reasons.”

When Newsbytes.PH broke the story on his resignation on Sept. 21, Salalima held a meeting with DICT employees where he was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he resigned because of “corruption and interference” at the agency.

He did not actually say that, Rio stressed. “Salalima was misquoted. He did not say that he left because there was interference and corruption, he just mentioned it. In fact, the one that he read to us during that emergency meeting was ‘there were some cases of interference that may lead to corruption. In fact, his letter of resignation was not irrevocable.”

Rio continued: “His letter to the president says ‘when I took office I was promised there will be no interference and corruption. But I would like to report to you that there are some attempts.’ So, just attempts.”

Rio, a former general in the Armed Forces and chair of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), emphasized that Salalima “did not say there is actual interference… actual corruption.”

Meanwhile, Rio said his papers as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the DICT is still at the table of the president awaiting his signature.

Duterte was not able to sign it because he left for Brunei, he said. The Muslim kingdom is marking the gold jubilee of the ascension to the throne of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

If signed by the president, Rio said he designation is “retroactive” to Sept. 22, the date Salalima’s resignation was accepted by the President.

Relatedly, Rio acknowledged that some projects of the DICT like the free Wi-Fi in public places with a budget of around P1.7 billion have stalled because no one has the authority to sign documents. “Papers are tied up, nobody can sign,” he said.

Rio said the government, in partnership with the public sector, will build cell towers and infrastructure, especially in areas not served by major telecommunication operators Globe and Smart Communications.

“We are looking at a public-private partnership and roll out towers, especially in areas where telcos don’t go. If we do that, it’s minus telcos’ capital outlay, and they can lease these towers and government can get back its investment.”

Rio said the government needs to build communications towers, noting that the Philippines remains the world’s only country where government has no investment in telecommunications.

He also revealed the government’s commitment to allow a third player in the telecommunications industry, which does not need to be as big as the only two major players.

“There is going to be a third player, which need not be as huge as Globe and Smart. If the third player is just an ISP (Internet service provider), you can compete. That player can also be a conglomeration of ISPs providing lines to homes, restaurants, offices.”

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