MANILA — Despite an agreement between PLDT, Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corporation, senators are still wary of cyber threats and attacks against the country’s internet infrastructure, including those posed by state-sponsored hacking groups.
Even National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. acknowledges cyber threats against the country.
“We are aware of possible threats. We know that in cyberspace there are third-party operators or unknown hackers who could always disturb our systems,” Esperon admits before the Senate public services committee when it tackled the franchise renewal of China-backed DITO telecom company in December last year.
But Senator Grace Poe laments over an apparent lack of a proper plan to protect the country from cyberattacks.
“This is the problem we’re talking about. The franchise of Dito Telecommunity. One of the issues being brought forth is how do we protect ourselves knowing that a certain percentage of ownership is owned by a foreign national,” Poe asks.
She goes on: “How can the Government assure us that they’ve given a fair assessment of the safety to our sovereignty if we don’t even have a proper cybersecurity group that does the assessment?”
Critics have pointed out that China Telecom Corp. Ltd., one of the listed companies of state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation, has a 40-percent stake at DITO, a conglomerate led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy. In 2018, it was selected to become the country’s third telecommunications player.
Security concerns were raised over DITO after the country’s defense department inked a deal allowing the company to build cell sites inside Philippine military camps. (JSM/JuanManila)