PHL lawmaker wants inclusion of cybersecurity in defense treaty with US

A PHILIPPINE lawmaker called for the inclusion of cybersecurity measures in the countrys 1951 defense treaty with the United States, citing that cyberattacks pose serious threat to critical infrastructure.  

If a cyberattack happens, our banking system and critical government infrastructures will go down — brownouts, and blackouts [will happen] nationwide, even telecommunications [will suffer],Senator Francis N. Tolentino told DZBB radio on Sunday. 

A cyberattack on the countrys banking system and government institutions should also be considered armed attacks,Mr. Tolentino said.  

Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a lawyer and policy analyst, said the proposal should be discussed further to consider all stakeholders involved in the treaty. 

Cybersecurity is also vital in maintaining our maritime security,Mr. Yusingco said via Messenger chat. Part of the discussion should be how our cybersecurity infrastructure compliments our maritime security strategy.”  

Beyond the defense sector, Mr. Yusingco said the Philippines needs to invest in overall cybersecurity systems as Filipinos have essentially established virtual livesin cyberspace.”   

It is imperative that our government acquire the wherewithal to keep this space safe and secure for us,he said.  

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who is on an official visit to the US this week and was scheduled to meet with President Joseph R. Biden on May 1, said he aims to include the 70-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in the discussions.   

Mr. Marcos said the treaty has to evolve,citing the changing geopolitical landscape from tensions in the South China Sea, the conflict between China, self-ruled Taiwan and the US, as well as nuclear threats from North Korea. 

In a statement last week, the White House said the two leaders would review opportunitiesto deepen economic cooperation, invest in the clean energy transition and ensure respect for human rights.  

The two leaders will also discuss regional matters and coordinate efforts to uphold international law and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,it also said.  

The MDT enabled the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries, which was recently expanded to allow American troops access to four new sites in the Philippines. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz