The Armed Forces of the Philippines has agreed to allow Dito Telecommunity Corp., composed of China Telecom and Udenna Corp., to build towers and facilities inside military bases in the country.
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Senate inquiry into AFP deal with China-backed telecom sought
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - September 17, 2019 - 10:46am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros has called for a Senate inquiry into the agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the country's third telecommunications player Dito Telecommunity Corp., formerly Mislatel.

A provision of the deal allows the consortium, composed of China Telecom and Udenna Corp., to build its system, towers and facilities inside military bases in the country.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that he was not aware of the signing of this agreement.

Noting that the country's top defense official was "left in the dark," Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 137 calling for an investigation into whether or not the presence of foreign telecom provider's facilities in military camps undermines national security.

"Is there now a 'sign first, worry about security later' policy under this administration?" Hontiveros said.

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The senator noted that this would be the second time that the DND chief was not consulted on government deals with Chinese firms.

Lorenzana was also not consulted on the plan of Chinese investors to develop Fuga Island in Cagayan, Grande and Chiquita Islands in Zambales, as well as a property previously called Island Cove Resort in Cavite.

"Sa isang panahon na patuloy ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea, napaka-iresponsable na pumasok tayo sa mga kasunduan sa kanila na hindi sinusuri ang epekto nito sa ating pambansang seguridad at kaligtasan," Hontiveros said.

Under the agreement, China Telecom will be in charge of deploying Dito's telecommunications infrastructure "on land leased within military bases."

This raises fears over possible espionage and other security risks, as earlier warned by Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

Hontiveros stressed that China's National Intelligence Law and Counter-Espionage Law mandates Chinese corporations to support Beijing's intelligence-gathering efforts and they cannot refuse to do so.

"There is an urgent need to determine whether or not the presence of Chinese facilities in military bases and installations undermines national security and whether or not the lease agreements entered into for this purpose comply with applicable law,” the senator said.

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ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CHINA DITO TELECOMMUNITY CORP. MISLATEL CONSORTIUM RISA HONTIVEROS
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