Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate on Tuesday called on the Department of Information and Communication (DICT) to be transparent and disclose how it spent its confidential funds.
“We have received reports that these anomalous funds were used for surveillance. The question is who were put under surveillance?” the Makabayan lawmaker said.
“Were the opposition and other critics been put under surveillance. Is this part of the National Task Force- End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to monitor and suppress the opposition?” Zarate said.
“Is that even part of the mandate of the DICT? This should definitely have to be probed and Congress’ oversight powers should be exercised to investigate this,” said the Davao-based solon.
Zarate made the statement as reports came out that resigned DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. pointed to the lack of transparency in the disbursement of hundreds of millions of pesos in confidential funds used for surveillance.
A COA audit observation memorandum dated Jan. 20 said the DICT advanced P300 million in cash for confidential expenses on three occasions — P100 million each on Nov. 22, Dec. 2 and Dec. 17 last year.
These were made in the name of Honasan, who also requested the funds, which were to be used for “confidential expenses in connection with cybersecurity activities,” the agency said.