Rio firm on leaving DICT, cites strained relationship with Honasan

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Four days after submitting his resignation letter to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said he is now certain on leaving his post.

Photo shows DICT undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. at the DICT office on Monday, Feb. 4

This is a marked departure from his previous position that his resignation was still “under negotiation”. He made the statement a day after Newsbytes.PH broke the story on Thursday, Jan. 30, that he was quitting his role at the ICT agency.

When the story on his resignation was published, members of his staff made frantic calls to Newsbytes.PH to deny that he had resigned. They said he was at the DICT office in Quezon City attending a meeting.

A lawyer from the DICT also called via mobile phone to say that the story was libelous as it contained a “false” claim that Rio had resigned. Newsbytes.PH then put out a notice on its Facebook page that it was temporarily taking down the story as this was being requested by Rio himself through his staff members.

But as it turned out, Rio had indeed submitted his resignation letter to Malacanang on the very same day that Newsbytes.PH dropped the bombshell. The letter narrated his accomplishments at the DICT but did not contain his reason why he was leaving. But because the resignation was not “irrevocable”, there were still efforts from the office of DICT secretary Gregorio Honasan II to dissuade Rio from resigning and prevent the story from coming out.

But all hell broke loose on Monday, Feb. 3, when the Philippine Star published a report confirming Rio’s resignation. In the news story, Rio questioned the disbursements of P300 million in confidential funds of the DICT. Other news items soon followed, with some citing a report from the Commission of Audit (COA) detailing the suspicious allocation of the intelligence funds to Honasan’s office.

When Newsbytes.PH caught up with Rio as he was about to leave the DICT office on Monday afternoon, he said the appointing authority – Pres. Duterte – has not yet accepted his resignation. But when asked if he is still willing to stay in the department, Rio said: “Hindi na. Hindi na kasi kami nagkakaintindihan ni Secretary. At matanda na rin ako.

The breakdown of the relationship between the two officials was somewhat surprising to many considering that both are former military officers. When he was appointed as DICT chief, Honasan also chose to retain Rio as undersecretary despite bringing a new team to the department.

In the days leading to his resignation, Rio was no longer visible in DICT functions where he used to be very active, especially during his time as acting DICT secretary. As a respected official of the agency, his departure also now puts into question the continuity of his pet projects such as the common tower initiative and the National Broadband Program.

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