DEFENSE Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has ordered the cancellation of the contract for the department’s janitorial services as the defense establishment conducts a thorough review of its security protocols, including him and all other contractors.
“Our contractors…they are now being subjected to secure and strict vetting because how do we know what they’re doing in there? Secondly, even our janitorial services: I’ve given the instruction to stop outsourcing these things already because you’re getting them from manpower agencies. They’re not properly motivated, they are part of your security environment, and yet they are a possible target for espionage and other things,” Teodoro told media and businessmen in a forum by the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Tuesday night.
The defense chief said the DND is undergoing a “full security review” that includes him, using unsecured communication lines.
“So there is a full security review ongoing, starting from me, down the line, which is why I perhaps have offended some people by not responding to texts or calls in unsecured devices,” he said.
Teodoro said the “number one threat” to the country’s national security “is a threat we have not seen, that can surprise you.”
When asked if he was referring to cyber threats, he replied, “Could be. I came from the private sector. That was the nightmare scenario that everybody was dreaming of. A DNS [denial of service attack], a ransomware. And we were already victimized by it before in the famous Bangladesh incident.”
This is why, Teodoro said, he is pushing military officers to have more training on “technical expertise” to address the “non-traditional” threats from state and non-state actors.
“Before, our officers’ training was focused on leadership and unit command tactics from the smallest unit of the line. That is still necessary. Those are still basics. However, we need technical expertise and experience in various fields in order to adequately navigate the asymmetry and the volatility that the character of conflict and the character of preparation entails at this time, particularly with the weaponization by states of non-traditional offensive weaponry, like the information highway, cyber sphere, human trafficking, actual subversion of internal economies, and the like. We have to have the sophistication and awareness to detect, to cooperate, and to neutralize these subversive elements in our society, and which we are starting on the right way,” he explained.
Due to the sensitivity of its operations, the DND, he said, should be a “highly secure, operationally security and sensitive” agency.
“This is not only for our own protection but also for our ability to interoperate freely through the free exchange of information and capabilities with partners and allied countries,” Teodoro said.