China state units creeping into Phl armed forces bases

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

China state units are creeping into Philippine armed forces bases, after grabbing territorial and exclusive waters. High Filipino officials are abetting it.

Already the Air Force was evicted from its 49-year-old base in Sangley, Cavite. It is preparatory to construction and operation of an airport by a China state firm.

The Philippine Fleet also is to be made to leave its main port there. Manila Bay and the seat of government will be left defenseless, the Navy fears. The airport builder China Communications Construction Co. had led the concreting of seven Philippine reefs grabbed by China into island-fortresses.

Another China state firm will erect cellular sites inside Filipino camps. The towers of China Telecom can be used to monitor Philippine military movements and eavesdrop on communications. Sabotage and spyware can be installed. Two Chinese laws obligate its companies and citizens to assist in state espionage and keep such participation secret.

More China units are being let into projects that have security components. Like in the Marawi City reconstruction from terrorist razing.

All the while China is militarizing Philippine territorial features. Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales is to be dredged as a Chinese air and naval base to neutralize nearby Subic Bay. Chinese navy ships and maritime militia trawlers surround remote Pagasa island town, Palawan, choking sea and airlifts. China coast guards routinely harass Filipino sailors re-provisioning Marines in Ayungin Shoal, also off Palawan.

All are part of Beijing’s “gray-zone operations.” The Communist Party employs political warfare and asymmetrical military offensive through state instrumentalities and the People’s Liberation Army. Short of a shooting war, Beijing aims to co-opt target governments and capture their forces, geopolitics expert Dr. Rene de Castro says of the “grey-zone” strategy. Beijing’s commissars go by Mao Zedong’s dictum that political power grows out of the barrel of the gun. The PLA heeds Sun Tzu’s battle strategy of achieving victory without firing a shot.

The Air Force started vacating its 77-hectare Sangley base in August 2019. President Duterte earlier told Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade to move there the general aviation from the Manila International Airport. The Philippines’ 15th Strike Wing, 451st Supply Squadron, 570th Composite Tactical Wing and 1308th Dental Dispensary had to give way. Small airplanes for fish and other light cargo took over the hangars and runway. The Air Force was promised replication of its facilities in faraway Laguindingan field, north Mindanao.

Also in August 2019 during his fifth Beijing visit, Duterte accepted CCCC’s 40-percent share in the Sangley Point International Airport. Cavite provincial officials proposed CCCC’s entry. For construction, P550 billion is to be borrowed from China.

Not only the Navy fleet is to be dislocated. To go too are its fleet support services, main fuel and ordnance depots, shipyards, special warfare units, commandos, air squadron, engineers, communications, training and largest in-base personnel housing.

The Navy learned about it only on Feb. 15, 2020, on the transfer to Sangley of the MIA fish-runs. It had not been consulted about its ejection. The day before, Cavite officials granted CCCC the SPIA’s P208.5-billion Phase-1: one runway, terminal upgrade and 4.6-km connector reclamation from Manila-Cavite Expressway.

The US blacklisted CCCC last month for reef destruction not only in the Philippines but also in Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. A decade earlier, the World Bank also banned CCCC and all subsidiaries for “fraudulent practices” in Philippine road and bridge works.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana approved last Sep. 8 China Telecom’s co-location of microwave relay and base transceiver stations in Philippine camps. That sixth largest China state firm can install surveillance backdoors, experts warn.

“China’s Ministry of State Security will dictate on ChinaTel” to insert spyware, retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio says. “Since the Philippine military is tasked to resist China’s continuing aggression in the West Philippine Sea, China’s MSS will surely want to eavesdrop on Philippine military communications by planting spyware.”

ChinaTel’s encroachment in camps is as 40-percent partner of Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third telco. Dito’s owner is Dennis Uy, Duterte’s longtime business pal and biggest 2016 campaign contributor.

Land rent by ChinaTel-Dito to the Philippine armed forces will be through hard and software. ChinaTel-Dito shall have last say in selection and contracting of such goods and services. That violates Philippine government procurement rules, Carpio notes.

The equipment can be used for cyber-sabotage. It’s like letting electronic Trojan horses in to our military facilities, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in Sapol (dwIZ) last Saturday.

CCCC and ChinaTel can even end up as total owners of the Sangley international airport and the third telco. The House of Reps has transmitted to the Senate a bill amending the Public Service Act. Despite constitutional limits on foreigners to only 40-percent in utilities, the amendments will allow 100-percent foreign equity in telecoms, airports, seaports and airlines.

“There are national security implications in telecoms, airports and seaports,” Recto said. “It’s a creeping economic invasion.”

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

My book “Exposés: Investigative Reporting for Clean Government” is available on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/Amazon-Exposes

Paperback: https://tinyurl.com/Anvil-Exposes or at National Bookstores.

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