Senator Risa Hontiveros described Dito Telecommunity’s plan to build cell towers inside military camps as a security risk because the company is 40-percent owned by the Chinese government.
Hontiveros said Chinese control over Dito is “very material” amid reports of China’s use of cyber surveillance in other countries.
She noted other countries’ ban on 5G technology from China on fears of Chinese government’s intrusion into their communications systems.
“Hindi ito panghihimasok lang ng isang ordinaryong kompanya. Panghihimasok ito ng Chinese Communist Party, ang Politburo nila mismo,” Hontiveros said during a Senate hearing on the Department of National Defense’s budget.
“China is clearly trying to gather data that could compromise the Philippine Navy, our first line of defense in the West Philippine Sea. Dapat nakalaan ang cybersecurity budget ng DND sa paglaban sa patuloy na pananalakay ng Tsina kung tunay na gusto nating protektahan ang ating soberanya,” Hontiveros said.
She earlier called on the Commission on Audit to review the DND’s 2020 spending on cybersecurity in light of the agency’s proposed P500-million fund for the same category in 2021 and the deal between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito.
“What we need to see from the DND is a robust cybersecurity roadmap that does assure us that our Armed Forces is more than ready for inevitable cyber threats,” said Hontiveros.
She said one of the country’s biggest cybersecurity threats is the persistent interception efforts of China-backed groups.
She said that in May, suspected Chinese People’s Liberation Army hackers targeted Philippine government agencies and government-owned companies with the intention of gathering “geo-political intelligence.”
Hontiveros said in April 2019, a Chinese cyber espionage group known as APT10 reportedly targeted government and private organizations in the Philippines.
The Analytics Association of the Philippines also found Chinese-related scripts inserted in the source codes of government websites, including the Philippine Navy’s website. “