First on Newsbytes.PH | Honasan puts Rio in charge of PH broadband project, free public WiFi

As Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has yet to accept his offer to resign, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said he will now assume his new designation as the top official in charge of the government’s two biggest ICT initiatives.

On Friday, Feb. 7, DICT secretary Gregorio Honasan II issued a department order designating Rio as undersecretary of operations in charge of the National Broadband Backbone and Free WiFi Access in Public Places.

Among other functions, Rio will also continue to perform as “assistant secretary for maritime and aquatic information management bureau systems”, and “assistant secretary for resilient government emergency communications”.

In a mobile phone interview, Rio said he will take on the job since Malacanang has not yet acted on his resignation letter. He said he will stay if Duterte does not accept it. “I serve at the pleasure of the president. If he accepts my resignation, then I’ll go,” he said.

Rio earlier told Newsbytes.PH that will still leave his post even if Malacanang won’t accept his resignation offer, saying he can no longer work with Honasan. But he apparently had a change of heart after meeting this week with Honasan.  

Rio’s new designations as the official responsible for the DICT’s flagship ICT projects is seen as an attempt to provide him with the power and authority to make him stay in his post.

Rio told Newsbytes.PH that the main reason why he resigned was due to his differences with three of Honasan’s handpicked officials – undersecretary Jose Arturo de Castro, undersecretary Eleazar Almalbis, and assistant secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic.

Highly-placed sources said the three executives – dubbed as “tres amigos” – were running the show at the DICT to the exclusion of other officials including Rio. The trio’s dominance, the sources said, has effectively sidelined undersecretary Denis Villorente and assistant secretaries Ivon Ronald Alzona and Alan Silor who have all been given trivial roles at the agency.

But Rio said these issues have all been fixed and that Honasan has “made us now a team”.   

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