3rd telco DITO to allow AFP to check facilities in military bases

3rd telco DITO to allow AFP to check facilities in military bases

AFP spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo. (File photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it can conduct surprise physical and cyber-security inspections on any Dito Telecommunity facility co-located in any military camp.

“May kapangyarihan ang host (AFP) na magsagawa ng unannounced physical and cyber-security inspection sa facilities na ito sa sariling kagustuhan. Hindi na kailangan ng permiso (The AFP has the power to conduct unannounced physical and cyber-security inspections on its own. There is no need to seek permission from Dito),” AFP spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a virtual press briefing.

If needed, the AFP as host can get the services of a third-party firm or team that can conduct a cyber-security audit on the existing communications facilities.

The third party, if called upon, will complement the existing cyber-security capability of the AFP and those of the government.

“The host has full access to all servers, all services installed in areas where we have this what we call operational center monitoring. Allowed tayo na magkaroon ng full access at visibility dun sa mga cyber-security operations center na naka-establish (We are allowed to get full access and visibility to established cyber-security operations centers),” he added.

Arevalo added that said Dito Telecommunity has guaranteed that it will not spy or allow any of the parties affiliated with the firm to use any information it might acquire.

“Lalong-lalo na ‘yung matters of classified (information) at anumang paglabag dito pwedeng maging kasong legal at pwedeng maging dahilan na ma-terminate itong MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) na ito (They cannot do that especially on matter of classified information and any violation of this can lead to charges and may be a ground for termination of our MOA),” he said.

Arevalo said AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay has ordered the updating of guidelines on co-location MOA with telecommunication firms which was crafted in 2006.

He said updating has brought about changes in the technology and communications environment.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said all Dito Telecommunity equipment and facilities will be placed in locations where local carriers, Smart and Globe, are also located, based on a similar MOA signed by these telecommunication firms.

Dito was conferred with the status of New Major Player in the telecommunications industry by the National Telecommunications Commission on Nov. 19, 2018.

The AFP and Dito Telecommunity signed the co-location MOA in September 2019.

Based on the agreement, the AFP will determine specific locations with its rental value for use of Dito Telecommunity in the installation and management of its communications sites without undermining the operations of affected AFP units.

The telecommunication firm is also required to “furnish all equipment, labor, and materials necessary to effect the co-location of its facilities and shoulders all expenses in connection with or incidental to the co-location” and payment of all taxes, permits, licenses, and other charges.

Arevalo added that in all cases, the co-location of the cell sites of telecommunication companies inside AFP camps entails payment of rent, which varies depending on the camp’s location.

“In the case of Dito, the rental payment goes to the government as Trust Receipt. This means that the rental fee will be reflected as AFP fund the deposit or withdrawal of which is covered by government accounting rules. So whatever we need, be it equipment or training, or other AFP requirements can be drawn from there. Provided that such is contained in a programmed expenditure as approved by the AFP Chief,” he added. (PNA)

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