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DICT says use of P300M in confidential funds needed to fight cyber security issues

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)'s use of P300 million in confidential funds in 2019 was legitimate and necessary, the department said on Wednesday. 

The DICT issued the statement after the Commission on Audit found that the disbursement of the amount was not covered by notice of cash allocations from the Department of Budget and Management.

DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio has also resigned, saying he was kept out of the loop as regards the questioned expenses.

“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.

In a statement, the DICT said its confidential expenses fund—a line item allocated under the 2019 General Appropriations Act—was used to address cybersecurity issues threatening national security.

The department said that the Philippines was ranked the seventh most attacked by cyber threats in the last quarter of 2019 by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

“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 DICT said.

The DICT said its disbursement of the confidential expenses fund in three tranches of P100 million each was duly approved by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“The COA did not disallow the disbursements… 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,” the DICT said. —NB, GMA News