The military has stopped short of admitting on Wednesday that the country and its security apparatus may not be totally immune to Chinese espionage activities with the recent “co-location” of DITO Telecommunity Corp.’s cell sites inside military camps.
However, Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo assured that the military will take “extreme efforts” in order to ensure that the towers of the 40 percent Chinese-owned DITO inside camps will not be used for spying for the Chinese communist government.
“Walang 100 percent na makapagsasabing hindi tayo mapapasok pero ang sinisiguro natin [Nobody could say 100 percent that we will not be penetrated, but what we can guarantee], we will be on our toes,” Arevalo said at a virtual news briefing.
Hinting treason on the part of defense and military officials, Sen. Risa Hontiveros moved for a Senate investigation into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-DITO deal, which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had recently admitted that he had already signed.
The memorandum of agreement between the two parties covering the co-location of DITO’s cell sites and towers inside military camps was put forward last year but Lorenzana then did not sign it following opposition raised by legislators.
“Nagpapasakop ba tayo [Are we allowing ourselves to be occupied]?” Hontiveros asked, adding that the presence of a Chinese-owned telco inside military camps is very doubtful in light of she described as China’s “aggressive” claim to some parts of the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros, quoting Article 7 of the Chinese National Intelligence Law, said Chinese corporations are obliged to support intelligence-gathering efforts. “Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law.”
“There is also the Chinese Counter-Espionage Law that Chinese corporations cannot refuse to assist their government in this regard. This is already a warning signal, and yet the AFP seems to have forgotten the warning its mother department itself raised last year,” she added.
Without addressing the issues raised by Hontiveros, Arevalo said that if there are people who takes the issue of security with serious and utmost concern, it is the soldiers.
“If there are any groups, persons or entities who would want to protect our national security, it would be us. That big responsibility is upon our shoulders. We will not let it be compromised to the best of our abilities,” he said.
Arevalo said there would be “stringent requirements and security measures that would be observed” before DITO would be allowed to put up towers inside camps.
“All access or those who would enter areas or camps where there will be co-locations will have stringent security measures that will be implemented. There is a need to submit the full list of people and equipment that will enter [the camp] prior to the date… of access,” Arevalo said.
He said the military can also conduct unannounced physical and cyber-security inspection on any facilities of DITO inside camps.
“We are allowed to have a full access and visibility,” Arevalo said.