Statement on DICT USec resignation

We, IT experts, professionals, and advocates comprising the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU), call for an investigation on the questionable disbursements of P300 million in confidential funds of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

As per media reports, Undersecretary Eliseo Rio of the DICT submitted his resignation letter dated January 30, 2020. The resignation was reportedly prompted mainly by what he detailed as the bypassing of his authority when disbursements were made from the department’s confidential funds worth 300 million pesos, of which USec Rio maintained the DICT has no use for since the department’s function does not include surveillance or intelligence activities. Since the nature of the funds is confidential, they cannot be subjected to regular audit by the Commission on Audit.

While USec Rio maintained that he did not find the disbursements anomalous, the mere existence and mention of a confidential fund, which he hinted as one that is used for surveillance or intelligence activities, raises grave concerns that the Duterte administration, through the DICT, may be conducting activities that aim to pry into personal spaces, especially of those who it perceives to be its enemies.

With the active efforts of the administration to quell dissent through harassment by way of red-tagging activists, performing acts of violence and killings through the armed forces and the police, and gaslighting people through online platforms
by spreading disinformation and misinformation via its vast network of trolls, the revelations of USec Rio lend credence to the aforementioned concern that this administration is yet again overstepping its boundaries to protect the interests of the elite few.

We thus strongly urge for an investigation of this issue to bring to light where the funds are being allotted, and to ascertain that it is not in an effort to encroach on the privacy of the people to control the populace and to silence those with opposing views on the government. We also make this call for the government to show transparency and accountability, which are supposedly part of the Duterte administration’s touted hallmarks, in the use of taxpayers’ money, especially in a time when government officials’ rampant corrupt and scandalous practices and disbursements leading to massive financial wastes are being brought forward.

Computer Professionals' Union (CPU) envisions a Philippines that is free from the domination and control of monopolist foreign interests, where its people enjoy democratic and civil rights, and where information and communications technology assists and serves the real development needs of the country's people and economy.