We, Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, and Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr., issue this statement to put to rest any question on the integrity of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).  

Your Department has but one goal: to give its utmost priority to the Filipino people and our nation. We put aside whatever differences we may have, and we shall work together to achieve this goal. Continuing with the programs of the Department, and making them better when possible, is the key to advancing the national ICT agenda, providing better connectivity, and even more reliable ICT services. 

Your DICT is for the people, of the people, and by the people. We shall abide by the President’s marching orders for your Department to provide much needed connectivity: connect Governments to Governments, domestic and global; Government to businesses; Government to citizens; and everybody to each other. And we shall do this faster, cheaper, if not free, and in a more secure manner.  We assure the Filipino people, and the members of our DICT family, that we have reassessed the situation, and have mutually agreed to settle our differences. We would also like to clarify any inconsistencies that may have surfaced in these past few days. To set the record straight, Undersecretary Rio never mentioned any anomaly in the disbursement of the Confidential Expense 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.  The Confidential Expenses, and its use in support of your DICT’s mandate, are not in question. 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.

This Joint Statement is to assure the public that the disbursement of the Confidential Expense 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.

We would like to emphasize 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.

As indicated in the DICT’s official statement published last 5 February 2020, the gathering of information data on the country’s ICT systems and network infrastructure, and giving technical aid or assistance to the government agencies involved in law enforcement and national defense are key components of maintaining our country’s cybersecurity. Strategies to effectively prevent cybercrime and cybersecurity incidents are needed, together with the proper use of cyber tools, in order to protect our public safety and our nation’s security.  The information systems and networks in our country need continuous monitoring so that both domestic and foreign cyber threats and cyber-attacks on our ICT infrastructure can be identified, addressed, and promptly neutralized to protect the safety and security of our nation.  These cybersecurity threat monitoring activities on our country’s ICT systems and network infrastructure have a clear and direct impact on national security.

We again assure the public that the Confidential Expense was legitimately used for our country’s cybersecurity and the protection of our national security. Rest assured, that proper procedures were followed, and the disbursements were regular, and duly liquidated in accordance with applicable accounting and auditing laws, rules, and regulations.  The returns of the Confidential Fund investment will soon be felt by our people because it will move us even closer towards a cybersafe Philippines.

Undersecretary Rio stands behind the Secretary and gives his full support to your DICT’s programs and projects.  Let us all give our full support to the Secretary.  Let us all work together towards enhancing our nation’s connectivity, and improving the quality of ICT services for our people, all in the pursuit of a progressive, safe, secured, contented, and happy Filipino nation.  Let us all unite and work as one to ensure the continuity and improvement of your DICT’s programs and projects in order to produce lasting economic growth and stability for our country, and a better quality of life for every Filipino.  We must never forget for whom we are doing this — our most precious, strategic and renewable resource, our next generation of citizens and leaders — our children.

Mabuhay ang DICT. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

For the official copy of the statement, Click the link below:

OFFICIAL JOINT STATEMENT OF SECRETARY GREGORIO B. HONASAN II AND UNDERSECRETARY ELISEO M. RIO, JR.