Use of P300-M confidential fund legit: DICT

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Wednesday clarified that its PHP300 million confidential fund was used for legitimate purposes.

“The Confidential Expense allocated in the 2019 GAA (General Appropriations Act) was legitimately used for cybersecurity and the protection of our national security,” the DICT said in a statement since the issue was brought up by the resignation of DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr.

The DICT said the fund, disbursed in three tranches of PHP100 million, were used in ensuring the country’s cybersecurity and to render technical assistance to law enforcement bodies and other government agencies.

“A key component of cybersecurity is information gathering on our ICT systems, and aiding the government agencies involved in law enforcement and the defense of our nation and its people,” the statement read.

The agency said while the Commission of Audit (COA) flagged the confidential fund due to lack of notice of cash allocations from the Department of Budget and Management prior to its disbursement, the issue was addressed after COA gave “procedural” recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“Simply put, the COA’s main concern is for the Department to be more efficient in processing the relevant documents—all of which the Department has addressed,” the DICT said.

In an interview on Monday, Rio said he submitted his resignation as Undersecretary for Operations of the DICT as he was underutilized and was bypassed by other DICT officials on operational matters, specifically on the use of the PHP300 million confidential intelligence fund.

He added that while there were no specific anomalies in the use of the funds, the DICT’s role in investigating cybercrimes, which involve the gathering of sensitive data, was more suited to law enforcement units such as the Office of Cybercrime under the Department of Justice. PNA.GOV.PH