China firm-funded Dito recruits former soldiers as managers

Prinz Magtulis - Philstar.com
China firm-funded Dito recruits former soldiers as managers
“I find working with them very easy,” Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, said in the same briefing. 
Facebook.com / dito.ph

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ third major telco partly funded by a Chinese firm is hiring retired military people to fill up its ranks.

So far, a “minimum of nine” former soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are holding managerial positions in the company, Rodolfo Santiago, himself a former AFP member and Dito’s chief technology officer, said in a briefing on Thursday.

“I find working with them very easy,” Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, said in the same briefing. 

“These men who are working with us, these are people who had been sworn to protect our country and for me, why there would even be a shadow of doubt that we will let our national security be compromised?” he said.

Of the nine former AFP personnel with Dito, seven were designated to lead security of regional Dito offices under Tamano. The company, chaired by Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy, opened its network operations center in an undisclosed location last December 7 and is set to rollout brick and mortar stores in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao soon.

At least one was pirated by Dito from active service, Colonel Roleen del Prado, who is now in charge of the telco’s cybersecurity, a task she previously held at the military. “I know the reputation and expertise of the guy,” Santiago said.

“I need an expert (in cybersecurity)…because that is part of our commitment. We have to ensure that our network will not be utilized to threaten national security. I’m sure he will not compromise national security,” he pointed out.

Santiago however fell short of saying whether putting former people in uniform a strategy to assuaged persistent fears that Dito, 38.9% owned by state-led China Telecom, can be utilized to spy on the Philippines.

More recently, a decision to allow construction of Dito’s cell sites in camps did not sit well with legislators despite assurances national security will be protected. Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc. also station telco sites in AFP camps.

On their part, Dito officials have persistently tried to calm anxieties, stressing that the telco remained majority owned by Udenna Corp., a Filipino firm.

Currently, the telco provider is busy preparing for an assessment by RG Manabat & Co. auditing firm, a third-party assessor, tapped to evaluate whether Dito would meet speed and coverage commitments to regulators before its formal launch 2 months after.

This assessment had been delayed by 6 months after the pandemic botched company rollout plans, including building telco sites. If by March the audit reveals Dito fell short of its goals, Tamano said a “remediation period” of 6 months would kick in to work on meeting the targets, without prejudice to going to the market by July.

For the first of 5 years starting next year, Dito pledged at to cover 37.03% of the population with minimum internet speed of 27 megabits per second.

“It’s best for the public for us to succeed,” Tamano said.

Shares at Dito CME Holdings Corp. closed down 1.1% to P7.17 apiece.


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