US/PH Intelligence Communities: An Insecure Comparison

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

In The New York Times’s October 19 issue, William H. McRaven reported how the Office of Strategic Services praised the “past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism, and sacrifice to the nation.”

McRaven recounted that “having served…. for the past 20 years, I know that they personified all that is good and decent and honorable about the American military with the genuineness of their humility, their uncompromising integrity, their willingness to sacrifice all for a worthy cause…..”

In contrast, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) readily accepted the intrusion by state-owned China Telecom or ChinaTel (which may be disguised under improvement of telecommunication services) into their security-sensitive camps, ignoring that the military’s integrity can be compromised.

No less than Senator Francis Pangilinan stated that this “raised the specter of Chinese espionage in the Philippines” noting that “China’s National Intelligence Law from 2017 requires Chinese companies (especially a state-owned company like ChinaTel involved in telecommunications) to ‘support, assist and cooperate with state intelligence work’”.

If a senator in the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines has expressed concerns about the AFP’s Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ChinaTel through Dito Telecommunity that raises the “specter of Chinese espionage in the Philippines,” people are wondering now what happened to the AFP’s intelligence and security operations’ structure for not raising a red flag on this obvious security risk?

Are they lapdogs to a dictatorial, political bureaucracy?

One question stands out: does our military/intelligence community not have the independence that should be characteristic of their mission? Or are they servile to a follower culture that is distinctly order-taking, mindless of implications of exposing the nation to inordinate damage and harm?

The fact that the MOA was ceremoniously signed by the AFP top brass without letting the Secretary of Defense know about it is a violation of protocol.  Secretary Lorenzana stated in public that he was not made aware of the MOA and that he will study the MOA before approving it himself.

Clearly, the comparison of how the US intelligence community does their work compared with ours leaves us insecure and with much to be desired.

The integrity of our intelligence network could be rendered questionable even just by one act – the Dito Telecommunity-ChinaTel MOA with the AFP.

Is that how much value our AFP places on the need to comply with our countrymen’s needs for security and safety? And to think that the Dito/ChinaTel MOA with the AFP is just one of those issues with China – from the West Philippine Sea violation of territorial rights to the imposition of debt traps, etc.

The AFP MOA with Dito and ChinaTel is notably just one of the many insecurities that China’s dominance has placed us in.