Honasan says DICT uses intel funds to thwart cyberattacks — Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — Some questions might have been raised over the use of its confidential or intelligence funds but the Department of Information and Communications Technology(DICT) needs it to monitor possible cyberattacks against government offices.
This was how former Senator and now DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II justified the hundreds of millions of pesos in confidential funds lodged in his office, at least based on his brief conversation with Senator Panfilo Lacson.
In 2019, the DICT was allotted P400 million confidential funds, and the budget was doubled this year.
“As per Secretary Honasan when we talked briefly about this, sabi niya pinapasa niya sa mga agencies ‘yung nade-detect nilang possible cyberattacks. E kailangan din niya rin confidential fund… kaya nga mas magandang ma-crystalize, ma-clarify,” Lacson told reporters on Wednesday.
(When we talked briefly, Honasan said he transmits to agencies the possible cyberattacks that they detected. So they also need the confidential fund. That’s why it’s better to clarify this).
The issue came to light after DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio’s resignation was reported by the media over the weekend.
While making no direct allegations against Honasan, Rio questioned the lack of transparency in the DICT’s disbursement of confidential funds for surveillance.
“My original position has always been [that] the DICT cannot use a confidential fund because it’s not in our mandate to do intelligence and surveillance work,” Rio was quoted as saying.
READ: Usec: DICT funds used for surveillance
Lacson noted there were “insinuations” but no concrete allegations against the former senator.
In fact, he said, Rio and Honasan are close friends.
“And ito, medyo irrelevant ito sa issue at hand, but I just happened to know hindi nagprisinta si Sen. Honasan na maging secretary ng DICT,” Lacson said.
(This is quite irrelevant to the issue but I just happened to know that Senator Honasan did not volunteer to become the secretary of the DICT.)
“In fact, it was his lobby for the appointment as permanent secretary, kasi OIC noon si OIC Rio. Nila-lobby niya, pinakikiusap niya sa Malacanang kung pwede maging permanent. ‘Yung pagla-lobby niya, that brought him there na maging secretary.”
(In fact, it was his lobby for the appointment as permanent secretary because at that time Rio was OIC. Honasan was lobbying in Malacañang to make Rio’s position permanent. His lobbying brought him to become the Secretary)
Honasan, nevertheless, expressed readiness to face a possible Senate probe to explain his side, Lacson said.
READ: Gringo Honasan may face Senate probe over DICT mess
“Sabi niya, mas maganda (He said it’s better),” Lacson said, still quoting the DICT chief.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III agreed that the probe would be a “good chance” not only for Honasan, but also for other people in the DICT to explain their side.
“Because the insinuation, if I take it at face value, is not particularly centering on Secretary Honasan. Even in the letter, Senator Honasan was never mentioned. This will give the DICT a chance to explain everything,” Sotto said in the same interview.
Sotto and Lacson happened to file a resolution seeking the creation of an oversight committee that would review the government agencies’ use of intelligence and confidential funds.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.