At least 17 lawmakers from Congress want an investigation into the allegations of resigned Department of Information and Communications Technology undersecretary Eliseo Rio that he was kept out of the loop on the agency’s P300-million intelligence fund.
Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., along with Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate Jr., spearheaded the filing of House Resolution No. 702, urging the committee on good government and public accountability to look into Rio’s claim on the supposed lack of transparency in the disbursement of money in confidential funds for surveillance, a function beyond the mandate of the DICT.
“With the current expose’ of Undersecretary Rio of suspected misuse of such fund, it behooves upon Congress to exercise its oversight powers and scrutinize how these funds are being expended,” the resolution read.
The other authors include Representatives Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna party-list), France Castro (Alliance of
Concerned Teachers Party-list), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Party-list), Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list), Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City), Bayani Fernando (Marikina City), Jose Singson Jr. (Probinsyano Ako Party-list), Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur), Stella Luz Quimbo (Marikina City), Sergio Dagooc (APEC party-list), Lawrence Fortun (Agusan del Norte), Ma. Victoria Umali (A-Teacher Party-list), Irene Gay Saulog (Kalinga Party-list), and Godofredo Guya (Recoboda Party-list).
On Sunday, Rio said he resigned from his post because he was being “sidelined and kept out of the loop,” adding he felt he was no longer needed at the DICT.
He earlier said he was not convinced of the explanation of the DICT that the P300 million was used for cybersecurity purposes.
Abante and his co-authors maintained that security surveillance is not part of DICT’s mandate, saying the agency “is mandated to ensure the rights of the individuals to privacy and confidentiality of their personal information.”
The resolution cited a Jan. 20 Commission on Audit audit observation, saying the DICT advanced P300 million in cash for confidential expenses on three occasions -- P100 million each on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 last year.
The authors also cited news reports claiming “that a P400-million confidential fund was inserted in the Senate at the time when current DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II was still a senator.”