The resignation of Department of Information and Communications Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. was literally a log in the dark as far as I am concerned.
I was alerted to it by the calls and chat messages from my consultant friends in various government agencies and political offices.
Questions like “What the hell is Rio’s resignation really about?” interrupted my usual late night Youtube watching binge — which is, if you want to know, for the most part focused mainly on campers, van life, the SIG pistols, shotguns, ballistics, solar panels, deep cycle batteries, power management systems, and Brad Leonie who reminds me of Bill Murray.
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Right off the bat, without knowing much about Usec. Rio, I told my friends “Whatever he claims is his reason for resigning, that isn’t it and if there’s anything that will fit into the anti-Duterte agenda, it will be played up.”
The timing, I pointed out, is suspect. Here we are in the midst of nCoV jitters and another Oust Duterte plot, then this happens.
By his statement alone, we would be led to believe that Rio’s resignation was born out of a sense of honor and propriety.
Granting that Rio’s Wikipedia entry’s accuracy hasn’t been compromised by sock puppets and bots, the awards and citations section of his wiki provides enough evidence of his character and competence.
- Plaque of Appreciation by the University of the East for placing 4th in the first ECE Board Examination, 1971
- PHL Military Commendation.gif Military Commendation Medal – awarded 8 times
- PHL Military Merit Medal.gif Military Merit Medal – awarded 12 times
- PHL Bronze Cross.gif Bronze Cross Medal of Bravery – awarded twice (2)
- PHL Distinguished Service Star BAR.png Distinguished Service Star – awarded thrice (3)
- PHL Outstanding Achievement Medal.PNG Outstanding Achievement Medal by the President of the Philippines
- Presidential Citation for Outstanding Scientific Achievements
“Best Military Intelligence Group (MIG) Commander, ISAFP”, 1990
- Philippines Presidential Unit Citation.png Presidential Citation from President Corazon Aquino for the major role of MIG 21 in effectively neutralizing coups threats and personalities against the government in 1989-90
But, having observed how some military and police officials behave when they are drawn into some manner of contest, the weaker party usually resorts to posteuring as a man following phrases in Hubbard’s Loyalty Pledge.
If you must growl, condemn,
And eternally find fault,
— resign your position.
And when you are on the outside,
Damn to your heart’s content.
However, damning is something men in their prime can do. Otherwise it’s just resentful whining.
At least to me, his ANC interview published in the Manila Bulletin seemed to brim with wounded pride, spite, and resentment — which is more telling.
“I’m 75 years old, I thought that finally, to really spend more time with my family so that is the main reason for my resignation and of course the environment in DICT has changed, Sec. Honasan got in and talented young people and maybe they should be given more chance to work on…,” he added.
Rio, who also served as Acting Secretary of the Department prior Sen. Gringo Honasan’s appointment, also highlighted some of his achievements during his term in his letter, including the extension of the validity of prepaid load to one year, and the “lowering of interconnection charges to make text messages and call cheaper.”
Rio also took pride in being able to “conduct the successful bidding and award of the new major telecommunications player in the industry to complete wit the existing telecommunications duopoly in the country.”
The former DICT Acting Secretary also mentioned the following initiatives as contributors to “a significant spike in investments in the information and communications technology sector”:
- The free use of the 6,200 km dark fiver for the Transco/National Grid Corporation of the Philippines as backbone for the country’s National Broadband Program;
- The execution and establishment of two (2) cable landing stations that would provide the government with two (2) terabit per second (tbps) of international bandwidth that is worth P 4.6 billion annually;
- Initiation of the Accelerated Common Tower Build-up which would put up at least 50,000 towers in the Philippines to cope with the growing demand for better telecommunication services and Passive Telecommunication Infrastructure Provider.Source: https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/02/03/dict-usec-rio-offers-to-resign-from-post/
Thing is, prior to former Senator Gringgo Honasan being appointed as the Secretary of the DICT, it seemed like Rio should have been the one appointed to head the organization.
On October 10, 2017, following the resignation of Rodolfo Salalima as DICT Secretary, he was appointed officer-in-charge of the department upon the instructions of President Duterte. Rio was then elevated to acting Secretary of the department on May 8, 2018. He took his oath of office at the Sandiganbayan on May 11.
Moreover, IF EVER the Philippine government is spying on its citizens, Rio would know about it.
Rio was appointed as Undersecretary for Special Concerns of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and was sworn in on September 13, 2016.
As Undersecretary for Special Concerns, he was in charge of the formulation of policies, planning, and programming of Cybersecurity and Emergency Communications and the implementation of strategic programs and projects, and regional operations.
He also held various supervisory roles in agencies like the Cybercrime Investigation Coordination Center, the National Privacy Commission, and the COMELEC Advisory Council (CAC), as well as overseeing duties regarding the participation of the DICT in the activities of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
From Wounded Pride to Insinuating Honasan Misused Government Funds
It would be a LIE or at least not telling the whole truth if Rio says that he doesn’t know anything about the use of intelligence funds. After all, he did formulate, plan and program the government’s Cybersecurity measures — which would be incomplete if it didn’t include monitoring and surveillance.
However, in another interview, we see Rio spill just enough beans to fuel the typical “surveillance paranoia” nurtured by leftist liberals in mainstream media.
My position is that the DICT does not need intel or confidential funds because it is not [within] its mandate to conduct intel or surveillance activities. But the position of Secretary Honasan is that this is needed by him,” Rio told GMA News Online.
Rio then argued that as Undersecretary for Operations, he should be at least informed on how these confidential expenses were used as part of DICT operations.
“Since I am not included in the planning process of the use of this confidential funds and it’s limited only to the people Honasan brought with him, I felt left out and useless and as such, might as well to resign because I am not trusted,” Rio added.
The thing with Rio saying this AFTER CONGRESS APPROVED such a budget is WHOLLY INAPPROPRIATE and UNBECOMING. He is simply not in a position to argue with the Secretary, even after resigning.
Rio’s statements in several other news articles were appended with mentions of COA issuing an Audit Observation Memorandum on the disbursement of DICT funds as if this were a RED FLAG or equivalent to a DISALLOWANCE — WHICH IT IS NOT.
COA Circular 2009-006 (Prescribing the use of the Rules and Regulations on Settlement of Accounts) defines an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) as “deficiencies noted in the audit of accounts, operations or transactions and requiring comments thereto and/or submission of documentary and other information requirements within a reasonable period”.
Thus, an audit observation may be regarded as preliminary. It will still be evaluated after management submits its comments and pertinent documents, and only then will an audit decision be made whether to allow or to suspend a transaction, which may ripen to disallowance
In fact an AOM could be proven by the Department or Agency as erroneous and could be corrected through a proper response — WHICH SLANTED NEWS ARTICLES DO NOT MENTION.
DICT’s Defense of Intel Funds Use
It’s funny how the Philippine communist movement’s armed and unarmed fronts voice their SHRILL opposition to the national ID system, moves to register SIM cards, the installation of citywide/nationwide CCTV systems, and other methods of legitimate surveillance.
As colorfully said by a former leftist, “Some of these hypocritical leftists and communist criminals think that a policeman patrolling the street is already an infringement of their human rights. Matingnan lang sila o mapansin ng pulis, abuso na daw. Gago!”
In anycase, the DICT officially defended its use of intel funds and from the looks of it, it seems warranted.
The DICT said the COA did not disallow the disbursements, noting that its recommendations were procedural, pertaining mainly to the timeframe for disbursement.
“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,” it said.
Under existing laws, rules and regulations, it said the confidential expense item is for “lawful monitoring and surveillance of systems and networks to support the DICT’s functions, which include cybersecurity, the formulation and effective implementation of the National Cybersecurity Plan, and international cooperation on intelligence on cybersecurity matters.”
With cyber threats faced by the country increasing at an alarming rate, the DICT said it is mandated to protect the security of consumers and business users in ICT matters and to render technical assistance to other government agencies on related enforcement and administration.
“This increasing problem in cybersecurity needs to be addressed immediately and effectively. To do this, the expenditure of the funds, allocated as it was by Congress for that purpose, was both necessary and indispensable,” the agency said, citing reports from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky indicating that the Philippines is among countries most at risk of online infection as well as cyber attacks on the web.
According to the agency, a key component of cyber security is information gathering on ICT systems and aiding the government agencies involved in law enforcement and the defense of the country and its people.
It said cybersecurity threat monitoring activities have a direct impact on national security.
“Strategies for cybercrime and cybersecurity incident prevention are needed, together with the proper use of cyber tools, to protect our public safety and our nation’s security. The information systems in our country needs continuous monitoring so that both domestic and foreign cyber threats and cyber-attacks can be identified, addressed, and promptly neutralized to protect the safety and security of our nation,” DICT said.
On the whole of it, it appears that leftists in mainstream and social media have used Rio’s wounded pride to bolster their flaccid attempt at an oust Duterte plot. Sadly, no one but people like Tonyo Cruz is buying it.