Defense chief: China telco deal with AFP needs my approval
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is unaware of the deal between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a local telecom consortium, which includes China Telecom, that would allow the telco to set up facilities inside military camps and installations.
Lorenzana said he was traveling when the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the AFP and Mislatel consortium’s Dito Telecommunity Corp. (DTC) was signed last week.
Lorenzana is currently in the Czech Republic after coming from an official trip in the United Kingdom for a meeting with his counterpart.
He pointed out that the MOA was not yet binding as he has still to approve the deal, saying, “When I inquired, the AFP chief of staff said the MOA is going to my office for my approval.”
“So now I am aware of it and I will scrutinize it carefully before giving my approval,” Lorenzana assured.
Lorenzana is expected to return to Manila on Sept. 20.
DTC is a joint venture led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a friend of President Duterte, with state-run China Telecom to provide telco services in the country.
AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato has assured that the MOA was open to the public and similar to the agreements earlier made with Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.
“It’s only a location. They just want to colocate [their communications facilities],” Detoyato said.
Not yet a done deal
He pointed out that the MOA was not yet a done deal and that the defense establishment could still back out if national security would be compromised.
The AFP-DTC deal would allow the telco to install facilities inside military camps and installations.
Under the agreement, the AFP will identify the locations within the military camps and installations where DTC could set up its communications facilities with the express guarantee that all devices and equipment it would set up “shall not be used to obtain classified information.”
As payment for leasing military land for its facilities, the telco commits to provide the AFP with equipment, system upgrades, services and training equal to the monetary value of the rent.
Malacañang also gave assurance on Monday that the military could still withdraw from the agreement if it would compromise national security.
“Certainly, if it involves national security, then this government can do something about it,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a press briefing.
Earlier, Sen. Francis Pangilinan expressed concern that the planned telco facilities might be used by China to spy on the Philippines.
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