Hontiveros says security audit of Dito a matter of national interest

Published June 7, 2021, 5:31 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday expressed frustration at the government’s lack of attention to calls to conduct a security audit on Dito Telecommunity, saying the National Security Council (NSC) should pursue one in the interest of the Filipino people.

Hontiveros reiterated the entry of Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third telecommunications (telco) company player, has serious implications on the country’s national security since 40 percent of its shares is owned by China Telecom or ChinaTel.

The United States, the senator pointed out, has already blacklisted Chinese firms, including China Telecom, due to suspicions they supply or support China’s military and security apparatus.

“Lahat ng mga panawagan ko, wala pa ni isa ang naaksiyunan o natupad. Sana dinggin na ang mga ito dahil ito rin naman ang hiling ng mga Filipino (No one is taking action on any of my calls. I hope they listen to my plea precisely because this is also the appeal of every Filipino),” Hontiveros said.

The senator said it is not surprising that the US included ChinaTel in its list of blacklisted firms since it is 100 percent owned and fully controlled by the government of China.

This means that the company is obliged to report directly to the Ministry of Industry and Information which is controlled by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party.

“Let’s also not forget that under China’s National Intelligence law, Chinese corporations are obliged to support intelligence-gathering efforts,” she said.

“China also has a Chinese Counter-Espionage Law, which forbids Chinese companies from refusing to assist their government in surveillance work,” added Hontiveros.

She said she believes that any country would do its best to protect its national interests like blacklisting a company or nullifying its projects similar to what the US did with China Telecom.

According to the senator, Filipinos expect this kind of defense against China’s encroachment on the Philippines amid its continued efforts to occupy the West Philippine Sea.

“Tayo sa Pilipjnas, kailangan din nating bantayan at depensahan ang ating pambansang interes (Here in the Philippines, we should also seek to be vigilant and defend our national interest). Especially in light of China’s aggressive maneuvers in our own seas, it is only right that we also review Chinese companies that may pose a threat to our national security,” she said.

“It is in this same spirit of protecting the national interest that I was impelled to vote against Dito’s franchise. This is also precisely why I called on the NSC to conduct a security audit of the telco. This is precisely why I filed Senate Resolution 137 to probe the AFP-Dito deal that allows Dito to build cell towers inside our military camps,” the lawmaker reiterated.