Rio hits DICT for ‘deceiving and unbelievable’ use of P300-M intelligence fund

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. has lashed out at his own agency for claiming in a public statement on Wednesday, Feb. 5, that the P300-million intelligence fund were “legitimately” spent on cybersecurity initiatives.   

DICT undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

In a strongly worded retort on Facebook, Rio said the statement made by the DICT is “deceiving and unbelievable” and was “obviously done by a lawyer and not a cybersecurity practitioner.”

Rio, in particular, questioned the DICT’s declaration that the P300-million intelligence fund – which was given in three tranches from November to December 2019 — was properly liquidated and accepted by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“[The statements] would like us to believe that DICT was able to conduct a confidential operation for around two months, spending all P300M and liquidating this amount within that two months time. Intel operative will tell you that this is NOT possible,” the retired military general asserted.

Rio said that even assuming that the DICT could use the money in that short span of time, the agency has been unable to show the results of that massive spending spree.

“While the method in conducting the confidential operation may not be divulged to the public, the result of the P300M operation must be scrutinized to determine that the Philippines was really made safer from cyberattacks or the operation was a big waste of public money. While the conduct of the operation is confidential, the result of the operation is not confidential,” he pointed out.

Having been with the intelligence community when he was still in the military, Rio said he knew how the mechanics of using intelligence and confidential funds work.

“[You have] to show that the results of the intelligence/confidential operation is worth the amount of funds that were spent on the said operation,” he said.

While the details on how the funds were spent and liquidated are confidential and can not be known to the public, Rio said the results of the operation must also be reported so that it could be determined if public money was well spent.

In the case of the DICT’s cybersecurity operation, he said the agency should be able to prove “how many cyber breaches where prevented, how many hackers and their locations were identified, [and] what malware were neutralized.”

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