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Department of National Defense’s request for Php500 million cybersecurity budget questioned

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Last Wednesday, Philippines Senator Risa Hontiveros flagged the Department of National Defense’s (DND) request of a Php500 million budget that would be allocated for cybersecurity projects for 2021.

Hontiveros cited the fact that DND allowed a Chinese-backed telco company to install cell sites inside the Philippines’ military rounds.

The senator is questioning the defense department’s ability to fight possible cyberattacks from foreign entities since they allowed DITO Telecommunity, a telco backed by a foreign company, to operate inside and Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP) base.

In a statement, Hontiveros expressed that the DND may have turned a blind eye when someone waved a red flag on the partnership deal between the AFP and China-backed DITO Telecommunity.

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The senator also cited that the Php500 million requested budget might be wasted on fighting cyberattacks from China, which could’ve been prevented in the first place if they were prohibited from entering the military camps.

Hontiveros urged the department of defense to “Be circumspect. Isn’t it foolish to allow a foreign entity, one with which we have territorial disputes, to put up a telco inside our military camps and then eventually spend for their potential cyberattacks?”

She also mentioned the bad experience that Taiwan had when they suffered from cybersecurity breaches as China attempted to acquire government documents and data.

This happening in the Philippines is highly plausible since the disputes regarding the ownership of the West Philippine Sea is still ongoing, Hontiveros added.

The senator stated that one of DITO’s backers, China Telecom, is wholly owned by China. Its entrance in the Philippines is more than just an ordinary company’s interference but exerted by the Chinese Communist Party themselves.

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