Hontiveros seeks immediate Senate hearing on the AFP-Dito deal

News Sourced

“Nagpapasakop ba tayo? Ang isang China-owned telco sa kampo ng sarili nating militar ay lubos na kaduda-duda, lalo na at ang Tsina ay hindi humihinto sa agresibong pag-angkin sa West Philippine Sea, pagsira sa ating likas-yaman, at pag-abuso sa mga mangingisdang Pilipino.” This was the remark made by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday, highlighting Senate Resolution No. 137, a resolution she filed in September 2019 that sought to probe the national security implications of the agreement that allows Dito Telecommunity Corp. to set up equipment and facilities within the military bases of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the country.

“I will request the Committee on National Defense to hear this resolution in the Senate immediately. Kailangan mabusisi ang kasunduang ito kasi mahirap paniwalaan na walang pansariling interes ang Tsina sa pagtayo nito ng cell sites sa sarili mismo nating military camps. Wala bang ibang cell sites? Bakit kailangan sa military bases? It’s as if the Chinese state itself is present within our military camps. Our national security is at risk here,” the senator said.

Hontiveros reiterated that Article 7 of the Chinese National Intelligence Law states that Chinese corporations are obliged to support intelligence-gathering efforts: “any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law.”

“There is also the Chinese Counter-Espionage Law that Chinese corporations cannot refuse to assist their government in this regard. This is already a warning signal, and yet the AFP seems to have forgotten the warning its mother department itself raised last year,” Hontiveros said.

The senator also said that defense officials have previously looked into security concerns vis-à-vis the proximity of facilities belonging to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, which largely employ Chinese nationals, to military bases and installations.

“Nabahala nga ang mga defense officials natin sa mga POGOs na malapit sa military bases, hindi ba dapat mas mabahala tayo sa isang China-backed telco sa loob mismo ng mga kampo? It should have been common sense not to allow this,” the senator said.

“We, in the Senate, should exercise our oversight powers at once to ensure that our national security is not undermined. Nangangamba na ang publiko sa patuloy na panghihimasok ng Tsina sa ating bansa, kaya imbestigahan na natin ito para maliwanagan at mapanatag ang mamayang Pilipino,” the senator concluded. SENATE.GOV.PH