SEN. Francis Pangilinan yesterday opposed the planned construction of Dito Telecoms (formerly Mislatel) towers in military camps nationwide as he raised fears of possible instances of electronic espionage and interference given the record of some Chinese firms of engaging in such illegal activities.
“This fear is especially acute given that China’s National Intelligence Law from 2017 requires Chinese companies to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with the state intelligence work’,” Pangilinan said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines last Wednesday entered into a memorandum of agreement with Dito Telecoms allowing the Chinese firm to install telecommunications equipment in its camps nationwide.
Dito Telecoms is poised to be the country’s third telco player. It has promised to provide better services to the public and is deemed to break the monopoly enjoyed by telecoms giants Smart and Globe.
Pangilinan demanded that a copy of the memorandum of agreement between the AFP and Dito Telecoms be furnished to lawmakers to allow them to scrutinize its content.
“The Philippine government has not only allowed the Chinese telco on our soil, it has laid the red carpet for Dito Telecoms (formerly Mislatel) inside our military camps… Why build these telco towers inside camps in the first place? Are there no other available sites for their towers? How much are they paying the government for these?” he asked.
He added: “How can we be assured that there will be no breach of national security and respect for privacy of communications and correspondence? Do we have guarantees that they will not obtain crucial information to the detriment of Filipinos? What happened to the cyber security audit of the DICT and the NTC on this third player?”
Pangilinan said he found it odd that the Chinese firm has been permitted to put up its towers in military camps especially following security concerns recently raised with the proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hubs in police and military camps.