telecommunications companies

Fears of China spying on PH military ‘truly misplaced’ – Dito

Aika Rey

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Fears of China spying on PH military ‘truly misplaced’ – Dito

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. (3rd-right), (3rd-Telco) Mislatel President and CEO Dennis Uy (3rd-left), MGEN Adrian Sanchez (2nd-right) and Mislatel Chief Administrative Officer Atty. Adel Tamayo (2nd-right) led the Ceremonial Signing of MOA between AFP and Mislatel at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Dito Telecommunity says it is investing P1 billion for cybersecurity, tapping 13 US firms for the effort

Third telco player Dito Telecommunity again defended itself over fears that its partner, state-run China Telecom (ChinaTel), will be used by Beijing to spy on the Philippine military.

In a press briefing on Thursday, September 17, Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said their engagement with ChinaTel is for technical advice and support, while management of the company remains with Filipinos.

“Let’s look at the nature of the company. We are bound to comply with Philippine laws and the company is run and managed by Filipinos. Being a member of the board myself, of the management committee, I cannot imagine that we approve of spying or getting confidential information,” Tamano told reporters.

“Makukulong kami to do that (We would be imprisoned for that). We would be violating laws on espionage, wiretapping, etc.”

Dito’s controversial deal with the military to build facilities inside camps sparked concerns given ChinaTel’s stake in the company and Beijing’s aggressive intelligence activities. Security experts and even former Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio cautioned against security risks stemming from the agreement.

“We are not at war with China. Espionage is truly misplaced,” Tamano said. “If we see an American, Belgian, say, participating in some private enterprise, why are alarm bells not ringing?”

The Dito executive also said laws “tend to be territorial in nature,” in response to questions on China’s national intelligence law and how Beijing could wield power over Dito.

“Very few laws are with extraterritorial provisions. That law may be valid in China, but it cannot be valid here in the Philippines. What will always prevail is Philippine law,” he said.

Tamano also likened ChinaTel to the Philippines’ government-owned and controlled corporations. He took exception to Dito being described as a “China-backed company.”

“That’s totally untrue. We have a partnership with a company called ChinaTel, which is a state-owned enterprise, yes. But in China, they have over 150,000 state-owned enterprises,” he added.

In a bid to further allay fears, Tamano explained why Dito chose Rodolfo Santiago, a retired military general, as its chief technology officer.

“We knew that someone like [him] will not allow any threats to cybersecurity or any spying to be done…. [He] would always put ahead national security or sovereignty above everything else,” Tamano said.

Dito has yet to start building facilities inside military camps. Santiago said they have not yet decided how many will be built.

Must Read

Cybersecurity efforts

Dito is investing at least P1 billion for its cybersecurity efforts in 2020.

Santiago said all of their cybersecurity solutions will be supplied by United States firms:

  • Fortinet
  • NexusGuard
  • McAfee
  • Nessus
  • Veritas
  • Pentaho Data
  • IDAM Systems
  • BeyondTrust
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco ISE
  • Siemplify
  • ManageEngine
  • SolarWinds

“If ChinaTel is in control, they would not allow a US technology company to provide the cybersecurity solution. We deliberately chose a US company to provide that solution,” said Santiago.

In June, Taipei Times reported that a Taiwanese legislator called for the banning of Fortinet from bidding for government projects, given the security firm’s “close relations with Beijing.”

Tamano downplayed these concerns, saying that Fortinet is just one of the 13 US companies tapped for their cybersecurity efforts. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Sleeve, Clothing, Apparel


Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at