#PINGterview: On DICT, 2019-nCoV Issues | Feb. 5, 2020

In an interview with Senate media, Senate President Sotto and Sen. Lacson answer questions on:
– Oversight Committee on Confidential/Intel Funds and DICT Row
– Concerns on 2019-nCoV



Did DICT row trigger creation of special oversight committee?

(Sen. Lacson):No, we filed it even beforeKasi under Rule 10, Sec 14 of the Rules of the Senate, nakalagay naman doon na whenever necessary, ang special committee pwedeng i-create. Na-create ito noong 17th Congress so we’re just reconstituting it not solely for the purpose of looking into some insinuations involving former Sen Honasan. Cover nito lahat na intelligence and confidential funds ng buong bureaucracy.”

(Sen. Lacson):Ipapa-adopt muna namin ang resolution kasi resolution yan na kailangan i-adopt sa floor ng buong body. Once ma-adopt, magko-constitute kami ng membership, 4 from the majority, 2 from the minority. SP ang mag-designate.”

(Sen. Lacson): “May matters na pwede i-take up in an executive session pero generally dapat open.”

(SP Sotto): “We’ll take everything as it is laid out. This is in aid of legislation. Kung may inquiry, kung may dapat baguhin sa sistema ng funding or whatever, not only in the DICT but other agencies especially when it involves intelligence funds and confidential funds, then the oversight committee which in this case will be handled by the National Defense Chairman, Sen. Lacson, we’ll take it, everything, at face value. Kung ano reklamo kung ano makita yan ang paguusapan. It will always be public hearing. It will not be closed door or executive session, para walang masabi.”

When will the investigation happen, in a few days’ time?

(SP Sotto): “If we pass the resolution on Monday, that week we can constitute the membership. Hindi rin siguro dahil sa 3-day rule. Baka the week after. At the earliest, the week after.”

(Sen. Lacson):The moment ma-adopt ang resolution, kasunod noon, iko-constitute ang oversight committee. Then pwede mag-meeting ang committee members to decide when to schedule, if at all, kung may necessity.”

Does the DICT row affect your impression of Sec Honasan?

(Sen. Lacson): No, hindi. Kasi alam nyo, nag-usap kami very brief ang usapan namin. These are insinuations. Wala naman pine-present na concrete to back the allegation of Usec Rio. In fact they are close friends. Kinakapatid niya pa yan and all. Professor namin sa PMA, nang graduating na kami. And ito, medyo irrelevant ito sa issue at hand, but I just happened to know hindi nagprisinta si Sen Honasan na maging secretary ng DICT.”

(Sen. Lacson): “In fact, it was his lobby for the appointment as permanent secretary kasi OIC noon si OIC Rio. Nila-lobby niya, pinakikiusap niya sa Malacanang kung pwede maging permanent. Yung pagla-lobby niya, that brought him there na maging secretary. I won’t delve any more into the details pero ganoon ang nangyari.”

(Sen. Lacson): “So siguro napagusapan namin ni SP, si Sen Honasan I’m sure he’s more than willing to air his side kasi these are insinuations at gusto niya rin makita o malaman ano ang puno’t dulo ng allegations na binato sa kanya.”

(Sen. Lacson): “Alam niya (Sec Honasan) yan. Sabi niya mas maganda.”

(Sen Lacson): “If it comes to that, hayaan natin siya at hayaan natin si Usec Rio. We cannot answer for Sec Honasan or Usec Rio.”

(SP Sotto):As a matter of fact, this will be a good chance for the DICT to be able to explain their side, not only Sen Honasan. Because the insinuation if I take it at face value is not particularly centering on Sec Honasan. Even in the letter, Sen Honasan was never mentioned. This will give the DICT a chance to explain everything.”

(SP Sotto): “Pagkakilala ko sa kanya di ma-involve sa anomaly yan… My answer is based on track record.”

Are there irregularities in transfer of confidential funds?

(Sen Lacson): “Wala. Look, DICT tama rin in a way, tama si Usec Rio. Pero remember DICT, sila sa frontline sa mga pag-determine ng cyberattacks. As per Sec Honasan when we talked briefly about this, sabi niya pinapasa niya sa mga agencies kung nade-detect ang possible cyberattacks. E kailangan din niya ng confidential fund kaya mas magandang ma-clarify… Hindi natin alam kasi kung ano alam nyo yan din ang alam namin, nababasa sa dyaryo.”

Can the committee look into the Office of the President’s confidential funds?

(Sen Lacson): “All-encompassing ang special committee. Lahat na CIF pwede tingnan noon.”

(Sen Lacson): “Pero tingnan din natin ang inter-departmental courtesy kasi executive department, legislative department. Tingnan din natin yan. Kung walang makitang reported anomalies, bakit naman tayo, parang nagwi-witchhunt ka naman siguro.”

(SP Sotto): “I was about to say that. Kung walang complaint, walang pagbabasehan bakit bubulatlatin yan?



‘Auditing’ of Chinese tourists:

(Sen Lacson):Let’s leave it to the executive department. Trabaho nila ito eh. Kahapon we conducted a hearing in aid of legislation. Mukhang may mga wakeup call na nangyari roon I think Sec Duque is now addressing, and the inter-agency created for the purpose.”

PNP can do contact tracing?

(Sen Lacson): “Even during the time of former President Aquino na-mobilize ang PNP noong SARS. Trabaho ng PNP yan.”

(SP Sotto): “Pagkaalam ko ang DOH, epidemiology, isa lang ang tao per region. Talagang tinap ang PNP, NBI.”