Despite ‘limitations,’ DICT respects Senate move to realign ₱300-M confidential funds

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Tuesday said it respects the Senate’s move to realign the ₱300-million confidential fund it initially requested for cybersecurity.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said the department will work with whatever funds given by Congress.

“We leave it to the wisdom of the legislature on how they will approve our expenditures and our budget,” he told reporters less than a day after their budget deliberations.

“So if they feel that is the proper way of providing us with the funds, we will gladly accept it and accept the challenge of implementing our mission to not only deliver our mandate on connectivity, on e-governance, on upskilling as well as industry development but also on cybersecurity,” he added.

On Monday, Senator Grace Poe, who defended the DICT’s 2024 budget, said they were able to convert the ₱280 million from the original ₱300-million confidential fund into line items. The remaining ₱20 million was removed.

Bulk of the realigned items are for Network Detection and Response (₱72.3 million) and Extended Detection and Response (₱79.7 million).

The DICT chief earlier argued that the requested confidential funds were necessary to combat cyber criminals.

Uy said it will be challenging to fulfill their mandate given the limitation in funds. He cites the growing number of cyberattacks on both the government and the private sector

“For now, we’ll work with what we have been given. That’s actually my directive also to our people. Since we’re given the limitations on [the] utilization of those funds, we have to be more creative and see how we can respond properly,” he added.

The DICT chief remains hopeful Congress will be open to them seeking supplemental budget next year.

“If we feel there are certain challenges that are unsurmountable because of the limitations put on us, then we’ll make an appeal to both Congress the House of Representatives and Senate if there could be a supplemental budget to provide us the weapons and facilities in order to address this growing threat of cybercrime and cyberthreats,” Uy said.

Poe said creating the specific line items will enable the Commission on Audit “to point out what the functions are of the equipment that was purchased.”