‘Bato’ says he would trust China only if it ‘leaves’ WPS
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said he would trust China only if it would leave the West Philippines Sea.
Dela Rosa issued this sentiment Wednesday amid espionage and data privacy concerns raised by Senator Francis Pangilinan on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito Telecommunity Corp. (former Mislatel) to allow the installation of communication towers in military camps.
During the deliberations on the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), Pangilinan pointed out that the Chinese-backed telco may be compelled to be used for espionage under China’s law.
Dela Rosa, however, said the AFP would not have entered into an agreement without studying carefully.
“Alam ko pinag-aralan nila ‘yan, hindi (na)man basta basta siguro sila papayag kung merong danger, merong risk…Sila pa? Kampo nila ‘yan,” he said.
(From what I know, they studied it well. They would not enter into an agreement hastily if they sense any danger or risk).
He also banked on the telco’s assurance that it would be used for espionage.
“Sabi naman daw nung…third telco na ‘yan, may assurance sila dun sa AFP saka PNP (Philippine National Police) na walang espionage na mangyayari. Tignan natin,” he added.
(The third telco assured the AFP and the PNP that it would not be used for espionage. Let’s see).
But when asked if China could be trusted, Dela Rosa paused for a while before he answers.
“Magta-trust ako sa kanila kung umalis sila diyan sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.
(I will trust China if it leaves the West Philippine Sea).
The Philippines and China are currently locked in a longstanding maritime dispute with Beijing claiming nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in The Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claims to the contested waterway.
But the Hague-based court invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line in its 2016 ruling.
Dela Rosa was also asked if he received any information about risks in the country’s national security during his tenure as PNP chief.
“May mga info ako (I received information before), I don’t know if correct pa ba itong recollection na yung Globe at saka Smart, ang pinaka-kwan nila sa loob niyan ay Huawei pa rin yung gamit nila dun sa hardware nila. Huwaei pa rin. I’m not sure technically kung ano, technically updated, may narinig lang akong information noon,” he said.
(I received information before, I don’t know if my recollection is still correct that Globe and Smart, they still use Huawei hardware I’m not sure technically, I just heard information like that before).
He did not elaborate further.
Dela Rosa then stressed that being alert is crucial when it comes to national security,
“From the point of view of national security, kailangang segurista ka. Yung palaging kang (in a) defensive posture…China man ‘yan, o kahit anong country na pwedeng magkakaroon interest sa ating bansa. Dapat alerto ka,” he said.
(From the point of view of national security, you need to be meticulous. You need always be in a defensive posture…Be it China or any other country that may show interest in our country. You need to be alert).
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