Ahead of DITO rollout, NSC still unprepared for cybersecurity threats – Hontiveros

Published February 5, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The National Security Council (NSC) has yet to submit a concrete plan to counter cybersecurity threats in the country despite the security risks expected once the Dito Telecommunity Corp. commercially starts its roll out next month.

Hontiveros, who has repeatedly aired her concerns on the entry of the third telecommunications company (telco), said the Senate should focus and carefully watch Dito’s developments in the next few months.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The National Security Council admitted that it had not yet — as of our last hearing on Dito telco’s franchise — established a cyberdefense doctrine to guide our intelligence community in combatting cybersecurity threats,”  Hontiveros said.

“With China having a 40 percent stake in Dito, our unpreparedness for potential cyberthreats does not inspire confidence in the telco’s rollout this March, especially since it continues to harass our fisher folk and refuses to have its vessels boarded within our territorial waters in the West Philippine Sea,” she said.

Hontiveros is among the senators who frowned on Dito’s agreement with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to install cell towers in military camps.

She said the move could open the defense establishment to the risk of hostile intelligence gathering operations.

“I do hope that before Dito rolls out, we in the Senate can scrutinize the potential national risks further,” the lawmaker stressed.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Feb. 4 held a closed door meeting to discuss the new China Coast Guard Law and other Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Among the issues tackled by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III’s panel is Hontiveros’ resolution calling on the Executive department to exert all legal and diplomatic pressures on the Chinese government to stop all destructive activities in the contested waters.

Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services, had also expressed her dismay at the  Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the NSC’s failure to assure the Philippines’ ability to combat the raging cybersecurity warfare.

Poe also questioned Dito’s preparedness to fulfill its commitment to deliver their services and to fund its project over the first five years of their operation.