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Honasan admits ‘limited’ check vs cybercrime

THE chief of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) admitted on Tuesday that his group has limited capabilities in preventing cybercrime, including those that can be potentially committed by other governments.

In response to a question posed at the agency’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives, ICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said his group has done due diligence for the proposed construction of towers in military camps by Dito Telecommunity, the future third telco.

Dito intended to build cell sites in military camps, signing a deal with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as part of its rollout plan. This has been criticized by different groups, as Dito’s minority shareholder, China Telecom, is a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

China has been involved in a long-running dispute with the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea. The United States has also noted supposed security risks linked to Chinese-made equipment and infrastructure.

While Honasan asserted that due diligence was done for Dito’s Camp Aguinaldo  initiative, he said the ICT department has limited capabilities against potential cybercrime.

“We are limited to monitoring. In fact, there are entities that we consider friends, but we found out that they are trying to intrude in our network,” Honasan said in a mix of Filipino and English during the House hearing. “I really cannot blame them, we have always been reactive toward these things. What we have to do is to be proactive.”

Honasan did not categorically say who these “friends” were, but noted that these entities involve those who are in the power transmission business.

The House committee then called for a quick break, and resumed with a different topic.

Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano has said that his group’s plan to build towers in military camps “contained the very same provisions signed by the other two telcos with the notable exception that additional provisions were provided pertaining to commitments of Dito to national security.” He was referring to the current duopoly, Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

According to Tamano, “Dito Telecommunity guaranteed that its devices, equipment and structures shall not be used to obtain classified information from the Armed Forces.”

Tamano added that his group submitted a cybersecurity plan during the bidding process for the new major player, to prove that its networks and facilities will not compromise national security and shall abide with the National Cybersecurity Plan.

“This plan has been accepted by the DICT and the National Security Advisor,” he said.

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