De Lima wary on Palace handpicking third telco player from China
Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday expressed serious concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s “partiality” to pick a telecommunications firm from China as the country’s third telecommunications carrier.
De Lima said there is a need to secure the country’s information and telco infrastructures against any threats or attacks.
She recently filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 603, which seeks to probe the ongoing selection of a third telco player in the country.
“There is a need for greater transparency in the selection process to ensure that all factors are considered, including the matter of national security especially since the President has all but instructed the [Department of Information and Communications Technology] to pick the Chinese telecom,” she said in a statement.
“There must be a thorough congressional scrutiny to ensure that the entry of the new telco player will not jeopardize the security of our information and telecommunications infrastructure,” she added.
Last year, Duterte has publicly announced he wanted a third telecommunications firm to be running within the first quarter of 2018 in a bid to force telco giants —Smart Communications and Globe Telecom—to improve their services.
Although the Philippines has yet to choose between telecommunications operator from China, Japan, South Korean and Taiwan, Duterte said he preferred China to be the country’s third telecommunications carrier.
So far, state-run China Telecom Corp. Ltd., KDDI Corp. of Japan, LG Uplus Corp. of South Korea, and an unidentified Taiwanese company are reportedly interested in setting up operations in the Philippines in partnership with local firms.
De Lima, however, cited a study conducted by a local brokerage firm, Papa Securities, about the security risks China Telecom brings as its main obstacle for its expansion in the Philippines.
The study revealed that “there has been 76 state-sponsored cyber-attacks linked with China since 2005, about 75 of which are primarily espionage in nature while 44 of these state-sponsored attacks targeted towards the US during the period.”
“We should not forget that the Philippines has also experienced being on the receiving end of Chinese cyber-attacks,” she said.
De Lima said that on July 12, 2016, Chinese hackers launched a series of online attacks against Filipino government networks as the court in The Hague rejected China’s historic territorial claims in the South China Sea, locally referred to as the West Philippine Sea.
“The breach of these networks follows a string of Chinese cyber-attacks targeting Southeast Asian claimants to the disputed waters, coinciding with times of heightened geopolitical tensions,” she said.
De Lima noted that the first major cyber campaign against the Philippines in connection with the territorial dispute occurred in April 2012, following a tense stand-off between Chinese and Filipino vessels at the Scarborough Shoal.
She recalled that during that time, a Chinese cyber unit breached government and military networks in the Philippines, stealing military documents and other highly sensitive communications related to the conflict.
“We cannot easily trust any third player to the Philippine telecommunications market, much less, if it’s China whose interests are diametrically opposed to ours, especially in respect to the West Philippine Sea issue,” she said. /jpv
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