MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, December 19, allayed cybersecurity concerns over China's expected entry into the Philippines' telecommunications industry by the first quarter of 2018.
"It is the priority of the administration to improve our cybersecurity and that's why I'm sure policy makers will have built-in measures to protect us," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. told a press conference.
"Well, right now, all I can say is we're picking up. We've given priority to our cybersecurity, and I'm sure, there will be measures to protect our privacy and our national security inquests," he added.
Roque said China Telecom might enter the Philippines in the first quarter of 2018, following the President's directive to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to approve its application.
The government's decision to allow Beijing-based China Telecom to be the third telecommunications' carrier in the country has sparked security concerns among other Filipinos.
Malacañang had admitted that President Rodrigo Duterte's offer to China to be one of the key players in the Philippines' telecommunications industry was a "political decision," in a bid to strengthen ties between the two countries.
The administration also said China's entry would end the "duopoly" of local telecommunications firms PLDT Inc.and Globe Telecom Inc.
Amid potential national security risk, Roque said the public should not worry on the impending participation of a foreign player such as China's telecommunication company, stressing that even local players are currently partnered with some foreign entities.
"Please note that there's always a foreign player in any telecom provider. They are all partnered with a foreign," he said.
"It's not as if foreigners don't have access right now because the minority shareholders of our providers are also foreign. So there's always a foreign partner involved," he added.
Roque said Duterte was "serious" in allowing China Telecom to operate in the country.
"The President has instructed the DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission to ensure that the third telecom provider will be up and about by the first quarter of 2018, the first three months of 2018," he said.
"And NTC and DICT were tasked to approve all the applications and licenses within seven days only upon complete submission of requirements. And if it is not approved, within seven days, it is deemed approved," he added. (SunStar Philippines)