China-linked towers in military camps not yet a done deal — AFP

China-linked towers in military camps not yet a done deal â AFP
An agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and China-backed Dito Telecommunity allows the latter to build facilities inside military bases in the country.
Philstar.com, File

MANILA, Philippines — The agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito Telecommunity, formerly Mislatel, has yet to be approved by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The deal allows Dito, composed of China Telecom and Udenna Corp., to place its system, towers and facilities inside military bases in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said Lorenzana was not aware of the signing of the memorandum of agreement between the military and the China-linked telecom.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Lorenzana will review the agreement once he gets back to the country. The DND chief was on official travel abroad when the agreement was signed.

"I have spoken to the Secretary of National Defense through text earlier and he told me that indeed he was asked the question and his asnwer was that he is unaware because he was out of the country when this particular agreement has been signed but he said that the moment he comes back to the Philippines from that official mission, he is going to look into it," Arevalo said in a telephone interview with ANC Monday.

The military spokesman also allayed fears of possible espionage over the deal with the Chinese-backed telecom player.

The deal is not yet final until Lorenzana signs it, Arevalo said.

Arevalo stressed that the AFP is "doubly concerned" on the matter and that they have already instituted measures to ensure that the military's communications will be secured.

The military spokesman also pointed out that Dito has undergone scrutiny from various government agencies, including the National Telecommunications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Another reason is that when we say we are allowing them to co-locate in our camps that doesn't mean physically located inside our military premises or camps," Arevalo told ANC.

"What we're trying to lend them is the relative security that we could provide this owing to the fact that these are part of the reservation," he added.

Arevalo also noted that this deal is not exclusive to Dito as the military has similar agreements with major telco providers Globe and Smart.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, has called for a Senate inquiry into the military's agreement with the China-linked company.

The senator pointed out that Lorenzana has again been "left in the dark" and "clueless" on Chinese deals with national security implications.

"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. — Patricia Lourdes Viray






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