Chinese-backed telecom Dito Telecommunity is assuring lawmakers and the public that its deal with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build cell sites within military camps will not lead to spying by China.

To dispel fears of Chinese espionage, Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said in a virtual press briefing on Thursday that its deal with the AFP has sufficient provisions to prevent China from conducting intelligence on the Philippine military through Dito’s telecom equipment.

Tamano asserted that Dito, a consortium that includes Beijing-based China Telecom (ChinaTel) with 40-percent ownership, is managed by Filipinos. He said that ChinaTel’s involvement is limited to technical advice and support.

Tamano further added that the Philippines is not at war with China and that concerns of espionage are therefore “truly misplaced.” Dito has also enlisted the services of US company Fortinet to bolster its cybersecurity operations.

For its part, the AFP is planning to add more precautionary measures in its deal with Dito to thwart any attempt of eavesdropping and spying. Among the provisions to be added to its memorandum of agreement with Dito include the employment of purely Filipino engineers and the military’s unrestricted access to the telecom facilities for security checks and audits.

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