Hontiveros calls for ‘immediate’ Senate probe on AFP-Dito deal

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Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday, Sept. 14, called for an “immediate” Senate hearing to probe the agreement that allows new telco Dito Telecommunity to set up equipment and facilities within the military bases of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the country.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Hontiveros filed last year Senate Resolution No. 137, which seeks to investigate the national security implications of the agreement between Dito and the military.

“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,” she 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 (POGOs), 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,” Hontiveros 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 lawmaker said.

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