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AFP sees more provisions in China-backed Dito deal to protect networks from ‘intrusion’



AFP sees more provisions in China-backed Dito deal to protect networks from ‘intrusion’

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Armed Forces said they want to include additional provisions in its agreement recently reached with a China-backed telecommunications company that would protect its networks from intrusion.

Major General Jose Niembra, AFP’s intelligence chief, said the military wants Filipino engineers working exclusively in cell towers to be built by Dito Telecommunity Corp. as well as full access to these sites once they are built.

While facing a panel of the Appointments Commission on Wednesday, Niembra revealed to lawmakers that these additional precautions were being considered due to the fact that 40% of Dito is owned by a Chinese corporation.

China Telecom Corporation owns 40% of Dito CME while Udenna Corporation and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp own 35% and 25% respectively.

Both Udenna and Chelsea Logistics are owned by Filipino-Chinese businessman Dennis Uy, a friend of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Actually, there are already Smart and Globe cell locations in military camps across the country … and we have not experienced any problems so far. The question is with Dito communications because we perceive that because of its nature Chinese, there may be threats, “he said.

‘Additional safeguards’

Although he downplayed their likelihood, the intelligence chief AFP further specified radio frequency interception, drooping eyelids or blocking the radio frequency as potential threats being considered by the military.

Niembra also listed three additional provisions the military is considering adding to its memorandum of understanding with Dito to protect against any possible intrusion by its networks:

  • “First, hiring all Filipino engineers just to make sure loyalty will be to the Philippines, on our side.”
  • “Second, the MOA declares that our engineers will be present during installation, during maintenance,”
  • “And [third]”We will be allowed access to or security control, at any time we want, in these premises.”

“All this is to make sure that we will prevent the interference or disruption of our networks. Besides the fact that we have competent technical people to take care that our communications are not disrupted,” he added.

The AFP intelligence chief also reiterated a reassurance made by Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, last week, deciphering the risk that the army network could be compromised.

“All the technical people in the Armed Forces found that the risk was low. So there is a low risk or very low chance that cell sites could enter our networks,” he said.

Strong opposition from lawmakers, former justice

Shortly after the deal with Dito was announced by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week, it was met with strong opposition from some lawmakers.

Critics of the deal include Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro), Pro-Tempore Senate President Ralph Recto and Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan.

Retired Senior Justice Associate Antonio Carpio also criticized the deal, calling the risks posed by such a deal “mindless.”

“I think it’s very dumb of us to allow these towers to be installed inside military camps,” Carpio said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source last week.

“You ask any security analyst who is familiar with cyber security and they will tell you, absolutely do not allow towers to be installed in your military camps,” he added.

Both Pangilinan and Hontiveros have flagged Article 7 of the Chinese National Intelligence Act and its Anti-Espionage Act 2014 which requires all organizations to support the work of state intelligence and prohibits Chinese corporations from refusing to assist their government in this regard. , respectively.

CONNECTED: Lorenzana seeks to cancel deal allowing China-backed telecom to build cell sites in military camps | Senate inquiry seeks to allow China-backed telecom to build cell sites in military camps

Rodriguez, Hontiveros, Pangilinan and Carpio all further cited the country’s existing territorial disputes with China in their opposition to the agreement.

“Are we allowing ourselves to be invaded? A Chinese-owned wire in our military camps is highly questionable, especially since China has not stopped its aggressive claims in the Western Philippine Sea, the destruction of natural resources and its abuse of Filipino fishermen. , “Warned Hontiveros in Filipino.

Recto, meanwhile, argued that military camps should be a “no-go area” for Dito and should instead consider building cell towers in the country’s nearly 50,000 public schools and state universities.

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