Dito stresses China connection doesn't make it a Chinese firm
File photo shows a cell tower.
The STAR/File
Dito stresses China connection doesn't make it a Chinese firm
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - September 22, 2020 - 12:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — The China firm-backed third telco player stressed on Tuesday its Filipino affiliation, downplaying privacy concerns anew after the Communist party moved to tighten grip on Chinese private enterprises. 

“Dito is a Filipino company. We may have Chinese shareholders, but it doesn't change the fundamental fact that we are a Filipino company,” Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source. 

“Dito is run by Filipinos. When you talk about the management and operations of Dito, we would never allow classified information to be provided to any country,” he added. 

Indeed, Dito’s top ranks, led by Dennis Uy, president and chief executive, are populated by Filipino officials even as the company is backed by a 40% stake from China Telecommunications Corp., a state-owned telecommunication company.

The Chinese government has recently issued an order to align the conduct of Chinese private firms with that of the Communist party. The rule, which strengthens the “united front work with the private sector,” also applies to joint ventures.  

Since winning the bid to become the country’s third telco provider, President Rodrigo Duterte’s long-term fix to the sloppy telco service, Dito has been bombarded by criticisms, from being owned by Uy, a Davao tycoon and campaign financer, and therefore getting favored by government, to its China connection to has raised espionage concerns over vital Filipino data.

More recently, Antonio Carpio, former senior associate justice at the Supreme Court, added his voice to opposition, saying it was “dumb” to allow Dito to construct towers on army camps, similar with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. 

Tamano, in the CNN interview, responded by saying he would “never use such disrespectful language towards our AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“This is the institution that is sworn to protect our country,” he said. 

Tamano also said critics “don't really have information” about the telco's agreement with the military. Neither Dito nor the AFP had also released a copy of the memorandum of agreement between them to the public.

“There are stringent protections against spying in our MOA,” Tamano said, without going into details.

Just last week, the military said several additional provisions are being considered to be added to the deal with Dito to safeguard security networks from “intrusion.” This was even as its spokesman, Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said that as it stands, the risk of spying was “very low,” the prior week. 

For his part, Tamano pointed to Dito’s chief technological officer, Rodolfo Santiago, as being a retired major general, as additional reason why attacks to the new telco player are baseless.“We chose him specifically because we wanted to assure the public that issues of spying would have no basis,” Tamano said. 

“We should view this project with optimism because it’s a great thing that we’re investing P257 billion. We’re also hiring 45 people every month. Amid the COVID situation, it's a bright spot in the economy,” Tamano said. 

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