Hontiveros seeks COA review of DND’s cybersecurity spending
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to review the cybersecurity spending of the Department of Defense (DND) in 2020 as the agency proposes a P500-million funding for it next year.
“Hindi talaga maliwanag kung saan napupunta ang cybersecurity fund. Hindi maliwanag kung saan nga ba ginagamit ang kaban ng bayan. I flagged this amount because we want specifics. We want to make sure DND is spending the P500 million wisely,” Hontiveros said in a statement
(It is not clear where the cybersecurity fund is being spent on, it is not clear where the taxpayers’ money is being spent on. I flagged this amount because we want specifics. We want to make sure DND is spending the P500 million wisely.)
“What we need to see from the DND is a robust cybersecurity roadmap that does assure us that our Armed Forces is more than ready for inevitable cyberthreats. At sa usapin ng cybersecurity, ano ang prayoridad ng DND? ‘Internal’ threat nanaman ba kesa ‘external’ (In terms of cybersecurity, what is the DND’s priority? Is it still internal threat or external threats?),” she said.
During the Senate hearing on the DND’s budget for 2021 last October 12, Hontiveros asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana if the agency has funds against a feared Chinese interference with the planned establishment of cell towers of China-backed Dito Telecommunity Corp. in military camps.
“Are these funds in the budget and where are they (itemized)?”
In response, Lorenzana said they classified cybersecurity measures under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Fund, which has an allocation of P5 billion next year.
Under the AFP’s modernization fund, P500 million was earmarked for the military’s cybersecurity efforts in 2020. Another P500 million is being proposed for cybersecurity capabilities next year.
Hontiveros noted that Lorenzana “did not elaborate on specific items related to cybersecurity spending.”
“Sa gitna ng pandemya, walang preno ang Tsina sa paninira sa ating karagatan. Kaya hindi na rin nakakagulat na walang preno din ang panghihimasok nila sa ating cyberspaces,” the senator said, citing reports last May that a China-based hacking group targeted government agencies and government-owned companies of countries like the Philippines to gather “geo-political intelligence.”
(In the middle of the pandemic, Chinese aggression in our seas are still happening. That’s why it is not shocking to know that they are interfering in our cyberspaces.)
Further, Hontiveros said a Chinese cyber espionage group known as APT10 reportedly targeted government and private organizations in the Philippines in April 2019.
The Analytics Association of the Philippines, according to the senator, also found Chinese-related scripts inserted in the source codes of government websites.
“China is clearly trying to gather data that could compromise the Philippine Navy, our first line of defense in the West Philippine Sea,” Hontiveros said.
“Dapat nakalaan ang cybersecurity budget ng DND sa paglaban sa patuloy na pananalakay ng Tsina kung tunay na gusto nating protektahan ang ating soberanya,” she added.
(The DND’s cybersecurity budget should be allocated against Chinese incursions if they really want to protect our sovereignty.)
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