MALACAÑANG said it will look into alleged irregularities at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) which reportedly led Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. to resign.
According to a news report Monday, Mr. Rio resigned after questioning disbursements from the DICT’s “confidential funds.”
In an interview on ANC, Mr. Rio clarified that he has no first-hand knowledge of any such disbursements in his department.
“That was in the news, but I said I have no first-hand knowledge on whatever anomaly. That report did not come from me. What I said… is that as far as I am concerned, the DICT (does not have) any confidential or intelligence funds because it is not in its mandate to conduct intelligence activities,” he said.
He said that he has been working in government since his Army days. “I’m 75 years old. I thought it’s now time to really spend time with my family,” he added.
Asked if there are other factors behind his resignation, he said: “Secretary Honasan (Gregorio B. Honasan II) also knows that we are (among the) people… that could not work together, so I said I might as well give him the chance, give Secretary Honasan a free hand without any interference from my part.”
He said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has not yet accepted his resignation. “Not yet. That’s why I cannot really come up with more details on my resignation until the President accepts it,” he explained.
The President’s Spokesperman Salvador S. Panelo told BusinessWorld in a phone interview Monday that Mr. Rio should personally inform the President if he has discovered irregular transactions.
“If he discovered some irregularities, then he should have told the President about that. Why should he resign?” Mr. Panelo said.
“He doesn’t have to resign. Kasama sa trabaho niya na may madiskubre siya na mga anomaly (It’s part of his job to discover anomalies),” he added.
Mr. Panelo also said that the Palace will look into whatever irregularities may emerge. “Yes. Malacañang is always serious and interested in any anomaly or irregularity that is brought to its attention,” he said.
Mr. Rio, a retired Army general, has held various positions in government since 1968. He started at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Research and Development Center. He became commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission in 2001 and was appointed DICT undersecretary in 2016. — — Arjay L. Balinbin