By Denise A. Valdez, July 3 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

A REORGANIZATION of senior officials is under way at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), said newly appointed Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, who assumed office on Tuesday.

In his first day on the job and first press briefing as DICT secretary, Mr. Honasan said he was given authority by President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the Cabinet meeting Monday night to make changes in the composition of the department’s brass.

“That is the free hand that we are trying to ask from the President. And that was given categorically last night,” Mr. Honasan said at a briefing Tuesday morning, when the DICT inaugurated a free public WiFi access point at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

“We will harness the (department’s) technical capability, because this is the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Not to remove people, but to put them in their proper places where they can help the department.”

To start the changes, former Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. was appointed by the Malacañang as DICT undersecretary for operations.

Mr. Honasan said he will be the “political interpreter” of Mr. Rio as he continues to play an active role in the department.

Mr. Rio, who joined Mr. Honasan at the briefing, said the entry the former senator and retired army colonel to DICT is fitting for “what’s been lacking right now in the department.”

“My weakness, really, is management. Since my professional career, I’ve always been concentrating on technical matters. DICT needs management… The entry of Secretary Honasan is a very welcome development. It completes more or less what the department really needs: his management expertise,” Mr. Rio said.

Rules IV-VI of Republic Act No. 10844, or the DICT Act, enumerates the leadership composition of the department, consisting of a secretary, three undersecretaries and four assistant secretaries.

Aside from Mr. Rio who sat as acting secretary, the DICT is composed of Undersecretary for Special Concerns Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for Development and Innovations and for Management and Operations John Henry D. Naga and Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary for Regional Operations and Countryside and ICT Industry Development Ivin Ronald D.M. Alzona.

Mr. Alzona also sits as the assistant secretary for Management and Operations, joined by Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Enabling Technologies Allan S. Cabanlong and Assistant Secretary for Infostructure Management and Other Special Concerns Alan A. Silor to complete the lineup.

While Mr. Honasan did not specify changes that he wants at the department, Mr. Rio said there’s a proposal to add undersecretary and assistant secretary positions.

“Part of the marching orders (of the President is) to reorganize (DICT), harnessing the best and the brightest within the department,” Mr. Honasan said.

“And then if there’s any need to outsource additional expertise, then we’ll do that, whether it’s technical or management or even political.”

He added the President ordered him to “improve connectivity in a faster, cheaper and more secure manner.”

Mr. Honasan took his oath as DICT secretary Monday night, immediately after his last term in the Senate ended on June 30, and months after he was appointed by Mr. Duterte to lead the department in November last year.