Confidential funds for DICT questioned

October 11, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 288 views

ACT Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro slammed the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) for seeking confidential funds when it cannot resolve cyberattacks.

The agency had P400 million in 2019 and P800 million in 2020 confidential funds however, scammers and hackers continue to proliferate.

The latest victim of these hackers is the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

The DICT itself said about 3,000 cyberattacks were monitored in the country from 2020 to 2022 alone.

Almost half of them are targeted against the systems and networks of the government.

“If the DICT is saying that they are undermanned to check or safeguard Philippine cyberspace then they should hire more personnel rather than ask for the untransparent confidential fund. Besides as Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares pointed out there were reports that the DICT disbursed P300 million of their 2019 Confidential Funds as cash advance even without the approval of the National Treasury through a Notice of Cash Allocation,” Castro stressed.

In fact, Gen. Eliseo Rio Jr., former Undersecretary of the DICT for Operations, questioned the need for a ₱400 million confidential fund for the agency in 2019 — an amount which then Secretary Gringo Honasan put in the DICT’s budget when he was still a senator.

“Gen. Rio eventually resigned over this, saying as far as I’m concerned, DICT does not need any confidential funds. Wala sa mandate namin to conduct surveillance and intelligence activities… I would rather have it given to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the police. Tapos ngayon gusto na namang ibalik ng DICT samantalang di naman ito parte ng kanilang mandato,” she said.

“Huwag ng bigyan ng confidential funds ang DICT, mas kailangan nila ng personnel at gamit para protektahan ang cyberspace ng Pilipinas at di ang maniktik,” Castro added.