PH military to allow Chinese-backed 3rd telco to build in camps
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has entered into an agreement that would allow the country’s third major telecommunications player, which is partly backed by state-owned China Telecom, to build its communication facilities in military camps and installations.
Dito Telecommunity, formerly known as Mislatel, is a consortium led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, which includes Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp. and China Telecom.
Uy is also known for his close ties with President Rodrigo Duterte.
AFP and Dito Telecommunity, led by Maj. Gen. Adrian Sanchez, deputy chief of staff for communications, electronics and information systems (CEIS), and Atty. Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer of Dito, signed a memorandum of agreement on Wednesday at the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.
Under the agreement, AFP will determine specific locations where Dito can build its communication sites “without undermining the operations of affected units.”
Also part of the deal is for Dito to provide the equipment and labor, as well as the payment of taxes, permits, licenses, and other charges.
“Payment will be made by providing CEIS equipment, upgrade, services, and training to the AFP equivalent to the monetary value of the lease subject to inflation,” the AFP said.
It also includes a guarantee from Dito that “the devices, equipment, and/or structures installed at the site provided by the AFP shall not be used to obtain classified information.”
‘Security is paramount’
While 40 percent of the consortium is owned by China Telecom, Tamano said that Dito is a Filipino company.
He also allayed fears that the country’s cyber and national security would be compromised.
“As a Filipino company, cybersecurity in terms of national security, we will always keep this paramount and we will never allow and country to violate our national and cybersecurity,” he said.
Some government officials and analysts have earlier raised concerns over the Chinese stake in the consortium, amid Beijing’s use of cyber surveillance in other countries.
Tamano explained that in the telecommunication business, one of the most critical parts is “site acquisition,” which makes the partnership with AFP important.
“One of the most tedious part is getting 26 to 30 permits in license in order to put up a tower. With the AFP, that is very much simplified,” he said.
AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said they have similar arrangements with the country’s two telecommunication companies, Globe and Smart.
“This partnership gives Mislatel (Dito) a fair chance to compete with the other networks,” he said.
The telco company aims to cover 84 percent of the Philippine population in the next five years.
Tamano said they are also partnering with other government agencies for the rollout, which is slated by late 2020. /kga
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