AFP deal with China-linked third telco won't risk national security: DICT official


Posted at Sep 17 2019 06:28 PM

MANILA - The government has safeguards to ensure the Philippines' national security is not compromised by the operations of the third major telco inside military camps, an official of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said on Tuesday. 

DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio downplayed concerns that DITO Telecommunity, which is partly owned by a Chinese firm, may install equipment in military camps that can be used for espionage or compromise cybersecurity. 

"We have the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in charge of approving cybersecurity plans of telecommunications firms such as DITO Telecommunity, plus the Cybersecurity Bureau of DICT which now has a Cybersecurity Management System Platform that can monitor threats to our cyberspace," Rio said in a statement. 

He added that the AFP has similar agreements with telcos Globe and Smart, and that the deal with DITO is even stricter because it states "that national security will never be compromised by their network." 

DITO, a consortium of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics with state-owned China Telecom, recently signed a deal with the Philippine military to build facilities inside military camps. 

The deal has drawn concern over possible Chinese espionage. 

DITO vowed to comply with government regulations in carrying out the deal. 

"We expect stringent physical and cybersecurity measures, including strict background checks of personnel and thorough inspection of equipment, never allowing foreigners to enter any communication facilities, would be put in place by agencies of the government knowledgeable in telecommunications operations," Rio said. 

He added that banning DITO from co-locating inside military camps when Globe and Smart are allowed would go against the country's competition laws.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he will scrutinize the AFP deal with DITO.

Rio earlier said that DITO has committed to cover 37 percent of the country within its first year of operations and deliver broadband speeds of up 27 Mbps.