Ledesma: Who is Rio of DICT?

LET us leave the controversial Rappler’s case for now. It is already with the Courts of Appeal. The last time we heard from Rappler is their manifestation in the CA that it is not a mass media outfit but a news site. The Senate spent precious time distinguishing between Fake and Fact news and then we are fed this gobbledygook. Oh well....more about that next time.

Meantime, the search for a permanent Secretary for the Department of Information and Communication Technology has been as tedious as the quest for the 3rd player in the telecom industry.

The criteria even as these are not spelled out demands that the head of DICT must have a thorough knowledge of the internet of things, immune from the economic terrorism of the duopoly of the telecom industry and guided by the principles and policies of the Duterte administration.

There are baseless speculations that the DICT Secretary post had been reserved for Sen. Gringo Honasan. While the good senator is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy and doing well as senator, information technology is not part of his expertise. At this crucial time when we are extremely wanting of a competitive and efficient telecom network that could be at par with those in the Asean community the head of DICT must be a person of impeccable integrity, knowledgeable and is not in any way connected or identified with the telecom players in the country.

OIC Secretary of DICT, Eliseo Mijares Rio, Jr. fits the job requirements. His credentials are beyond what are demanded for the job and he owes no favors from the big and small players in the industry. Since his assumption as officer in charge of DICT, Rio has been subjected to scrutiny. His frugal lifestyle moreover speaks of his persona. On the other hand even as an OIC he proved to be a lot better and courageously independent compared to his predecessors.

The duopoly will not stop at anything to place the 3rd player at its beck and call. Manny Pangilinan for example cannot keep his cool and made assertions on how spectrums should be allocated. The duopoly which had been in total control of the industry had assumed it has all the four aces up its sleeve and government regulators must beware of games these giant players want to play. As in poker, the small players can be economically terrorized. In brief the big guys can buy spectrums no matter what the price be but the country will forever remain in limbo. What do you think is their motive in buying San Miguel’s/Telstra spectrum at a mind-boggling amount of P70-billion? And why do they refuse to use the state-of-the-art-the art peering switch which was donated by Microsoft to the Philippines through the Department of Science and Technology? So far OIC Rio has not adopted any of the duopoly’s sly strategies. One can just imagine the tremendous pressure he is subjected to at this stage.

Those who aspire to be third player has only to prove they have the wherewithals to compete, the experience, the congressional franchise and it would help if they have existing assets nationwide and have foreign partners as the President suggests. Those who aspire on the bases of family relations better think of something else to do. At this stage one small player innocuously listed a name forgetting that in the case of the Urban Poor Commission a Presidential relative was among the conspicuous casualty. It is this attempt at swaying decisions where Eliseo Rio is expected to have the gumption to resist and repel the way the President do.

I have not met OIC Rio but his credentials speak for him. A decorated soldier and officer for his bravery and courage which catapulted him to the rank of Brigadier General of the Philippine Army. A topnotch Electronic Communications Engineer. He specialized in satellite communications and missile guidance technology, these aside from the seminar and courses he attended as a military officer who was on top of the AFP communications, electronic and information service.

Rio is a graduate of Electrical Engineering from UP, Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of the East and Electronic Industries from Ateneo de Manila University.

I have talked to some of his closest friends and all of them have a common description of the man: He lives a very frugal life, a very modest home, like that of President Duterte they added and that he cannot even have his graying hairs dyed.

Maybe his appointment as permanent Secretary of DICT be made at the same time when the Malacanang shall have decided to name the 3rd Telecom player.
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