Duterte accepts resignation of DICT Undersecretary Rio

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the resignation of Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. that was tendered three months ago, the Palace confirmed on Friday.

"The Palace thanks Usec. Rio for his invaluable services to the nation and we wish him well in his future endeavors," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a tweet.

Rio told CNN Philippines he was called by Roque on Friday morning to inform him of Duterte's decision. When asked why Duterte only recently accepted his resignation, he laughingly replied, "I don't know nga, baka may nakabangga ako?"

[Translation: I don't know why, maybe I collided with someone?]

Rio offered his resignation on January 31, initially citing conflicting views with other officials in the agency. Among the points of contention were the millions of pesos in confidential funds lodged with the agency and apparent friction with new appointees.

In his resignation, Rio questioned DICT's multimillion-peso confidential fund. He said Secretary Gringo Honasan had secured cash advances worth ₱300 million, charged against the ₱400 million earmarked for "confidential, intelligence and extraordinary expenses" of the agency in 2019.

But he retracted it later in a joint statement with Honasan. In this statement, he said his resignation was because of "personal reasons, and not due to any rift with the Secretary, nor to any anomaly in the Confidential Expense."

Related: Rio, Honasan 'settle differences' as Duterte awaits probe into DICT's intel funds

Rio, an engineer who served as Undersecretary for Operations in the agency, served as acting secretary of the DICT and led the bidding process for the third slot as mobile communications provider in 2018 — one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte.