Hontiveros reiterates: Security audit imperative before commercial rollout of Dito Telecommunity Corp.

Published February 24, 2021, 11:12 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

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 / FILE PHOTO)

  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.

Hontiveros made  the appeal as she noted that government has yet to resolve the security issues hounding the country’s third telecommunications network. The senator  lamented that while China is continuing its “bullying” activities in the West Philippine Sea even in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines “rolled out the red carpet” for a telecommunication company that could possibly submit intelligence reports directly to the government of China.

“This is worrying. NSC should execute a security audit for Dito. It’s the least it can do,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Wednesday.

Philippine-based Udenna and Chelsea Logistics comprise 60 percent shares of Dito Telecommunity while China-based China Telecom owns the other 40 percent.

On Monday, Feb. 22, NTC announced that Dito passed its first technical audit despite lack of subscribers.

“If there was a technical audit, there should have been a security audit too. Knowing that Dito is safe from China’s incursions is as vital as knowing Dito’s technical capabilities,” Hontiveros said, pointing out that ChinaTel has a 40 percent state in Dito.

The senator recalled that during the Senate’s hearing last December 2020, NSC admitted it did not have a cyber-defense doctrine that can fight cyber attacks.

This prompted senators to question why Dito should be allowed franchise when the cyber-defenses of the country are down.

Hontiveros also said the government should be wary of China-based hacking group “Naikon” that has been allegedly carrying out an espionage campaign against governments in the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines.

“It’s worrying that NSC still has no concrete strategy in terms of cybersecurity. China can easily take advantage of this. They have been invading our seas upfront. Nothing is stopping it from doing the same to our data,” she pointed out.

“Not unless China finally respects and honors that our territories in the WPS are ours and ours alone, every other business negotiations it has in our country will remain suspicious,” the lawmaker emphasized.