Hontiveros: NSC must conduct security audit of Dito Telecommunity Corp.

Published February 24, 2021, 10:50 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the National Security Council (NSC) to immediately conduct a security audit of Dito Telecommunity Corporation ahead of its commercial rollout on March 8.

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

“Hindi pa nareresolba ang mga pangamba natin sa Dito telco (Fears about Dito have not been addressed yet). Habang patuloy ang pambubully ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea sa gitna ng pandemya, nag-roll out naman tayo ng red carpet para sa isang kumpanyang direktong nagrereport sa gobyerno ng Tsina (While China continues to bully the Philippines, we are rolling out the red-carpet for a company that directly reports to the Chinese government).This is worrying. NSC should execute a security audit for Dito. It’s the least it can do,” Hontiveros said.       

Philippine-based Udenna and Chelsea Logistics, along with small private investors, comprise 60 percent shares of Dito Telecommunity while China-based China Telecom owns the other 40 percent.      

Hontiveros stressed that NSC must also tap an independent security auditor, similar to how the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) conducted its technical audit of Dito. On Monday, Feb. 22, NTC announced that the third telco passed its first technical audit.     

“Kung nagkaroon ng technical audit, dapat may security audit din (if there is a technical audit, there should also be a security audit). Knowing that Dito is safe from China’s incursions is as vital as knowing Dito’s technical capabilities,” Hontiveros said, reiterating that ChinaTelecom which has a 40 percent stake in Dito, is 100-percent owned by the Chinese state.     

During the Senate hearing on Dito’s franchise in December, the NSC admitted that it did not have a cyberdefense doctrine that could fight against cyberattacks.    

Hontiveros earlier questioned why Dito should be allowed franchise when the country’s cyberdefenses are down.      

The senator had also flagged a China-based hacking group, code name “Naikon,” that has been carrying out an espionage campaign against governments in the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines.   

“Nakakabahala na wala palang konkretong istratehiya ang NSC sa usapin ng cybersecurity (It is worrisome that NSC has no concrete strategy on matters of cybersecurity). China can easily take advantage of this. Sinasakop na nila ang ating karagatan nang harap-harapan (China is blatantly getting our seas) Nothing is stopping it from doing the same to our data,” the senator said.    

“Not unless China finally respects and honors that our territories in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) are ours and ours alone, every other business negotiation it has in our country will remain suspicious. Panindigan natin ang laban na ito (We should stand up in this fight). Kung hindi, ang Pilipino lang ang talo If not, Filipinos will lose),” Hontiveros added.