Closed-door meeting pressed to discuss security risks in Dito-ChinaTel link

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    SEN. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan yesterday stressed there is an urgent need for senators to have an executive session to discuss national security issues related to the operation of third telco firm Dito Telecommunity’s and its business connection with China Telecom.

    Pangilinan said Dito’s partnership with China Telecom has serious implications in the country’s national security.

    “Perhaps the chair may consider, at some point, calling an executive session, so that we can discuss, very sensitive national security issues, and we will be able to discuss freely,” Pangilinan said during the Senate Committee on Public Services’ hearing on the renewal of Dito’s franchise.

    Committee chairperson Sen. Grace Poe acceded to Pangilinan’s call for an executive session.

    Pangilinan said China Telecom is one of the 20 companies listed by the United States Department of Defense that have direct links to the People’s Liberation Army.

    Also, he pointed out that Chinese companies, under the People’s Republic of China’s Counter Espionage Law of 2014 and Chinese National Intelligence Law of 2017, are mandated to cooperate in intelligence gathering and data gathering.

    Chinese companies are also required to conduct espionage activities and immediately report to the government critical information they have gathered.

    “How is Dito going to address this in terms of the security concerns of the country, given that China Telecom, precisely has a 40 percent stake with their company?” said Pangilinan, who reiterated his concern over the agreement that the Department of National Defense (DND) has entered into with Dito for the establishment of towers in military camps.

    During the hearing, Poe questioned the capacity of the government in preventing cyberattacks after she found out during the meeting that the government has not drawn up any mechanism or has crafted clear plans to thwart such attacks, if and when they happen.