Honasan breaks silence, says Rio didn’t question use of intel funds

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Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II has broken his silence for the first time since his agency got embroiled in a controversy due to the sudden resignation of undersecretary Eliseo Mr. Rio Jr.

In this file photo, DICT secretary Gregorio Honasan II (right) administering the oath of office of undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr.

In a joint statement with Rio on Friday, Feb. 7, Honasan denied that Rio “mentioned any anomaly in the disbursement of the intelligence fund of the DICT”.

“His statements about the need for Confidential Expenses may have been misinterpreted, and it is emphasized that these were his own personal views and not that of the Department,” Honasan said.

Honasan, a former senator and military officer, said the “confidential expenses” and its use are actually allowed to support the DICT’s mandate.

“In fact, it was Undersecretary Rio, at the time, who proposed the inclusion of the Confidential Expense item in the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), and he also signed the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for it. Let it also be clarified that Undersecretary Rio’s resignation was due to personal reasons, and not due to any rift with the Secretary, nor to any anomaly in the Confidential Expense,” the joint statement said.

The joint statement, its signatories said, was issued to assure the public that the disbursement of the intelligence fund was lawful and legitimate.

“We would like to stress that the Confidential Expense is a line item allocated under the 2019 GAA that went through the rigorous process of approval by both houses of Congress and ultimately by the President himself,” the statement said.

Honasan said that “part of the mandate of DICT is to ensure and protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of the Filipino people in ICT-related matters, as well as to ensure the security of critical ICT infrastructures of our country.”

“As such, the use of the Confidential Expense is for lawful monitoring and surveillance of systems and network infrastructure only. It is not used for the monitoring of individuals and persons since that is not part of the Department’s mandate,” the statement said.

The statement said “proper procedures were followed, and the disbursements were regular, and duly liquidated in accordance with applicable accounting and auditing laws, rules, and regulations.”

“Undersecretary Rio stands behind the Secretary and gives his full support to your DICT’s programs and projects,” the statement added.

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