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Duterte to listen to Rio’s allegations, says Panelo

President Rodrigo Duterte will meet Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Eliseo Rio to hear his allegations as regards the department's use of confidential funds.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, said the schedule of the meeting had yet to be set.

"His office has received the resignation letter but he has not read it. As to the allegations of Rio, he will listen to him when they meet but no schedule yet," Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said Duterte would  also "observe" the Senate inquiry on the DICT's use of P300 million worth of confidential funds.

Rio resigned from the DICT after Secretary Gregorio Honasan supposedly kept him out of the loop over how the agency spent P300 million in confidential funds.

He made the disclosure when sought for confirmation on a Commission on Audit Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) dated January 20 which said that the DICT disbursed a total of P300 million in the form of three cash advances of P100 million each on November 8, December 3 and December 17 in 2019.

All the cash advances were intended for confidential expenses and none had notice of cash allocations (NCAs) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The NCA is a disbursement authority issued by DBM to central, regional and provincial offices and operating units to cover cash requirements of the agencies prior to the processing and release of cash advances.

On Friday, Honasan and Rio issued a joint statement “to assure the public that the disbursement of the Confidential Expense was lawful and legitimate.”

“We would like to stress that the Confidential Expense is a line item allocated under the 2019 GAA that went through the rigorous process of approval by both houses of Congress and ultimately by the President himself,” the joint statement read. —NB, GMA News