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Lorenzana might scrap telco deal if it threatens PH security

/ 12:25 AM September 24, 2019
‘Recipe for disaster’: Intel official raises red flag vs China-backed telco in PH

In this September 11, 2019 photo, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito Telecommunity Corp. (former Mislatel) present their signed Memorandum of Agreement that allows the new telco to build its communications facilities in military camps and installations. (Photo by FRANCES MANGOSING / INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has raised the prospect of rejecting the deal between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the China-backed Dito Telecommunity Corp., the country’s third telco, if it would compromise national security.

“If it’s necessary [I will reject it]. As Secretary [Salvador] Panelo [the presidential spokesperson] said, nothing’s final yet. We can still take it back until I approve it. I am the approving authority,” Lorenzana, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters Monday on the sidelines of the blessing of  new assets of the Philippine Navy

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Lorenzana was abroad during the time of the signing last Sept. 11. The agreement has not been submitted to his office.

The AFP early this month signed an agreement with Dito Telecommunity to allow the third telco to put up communication systems in military bases and installations.

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Concerns were raised that the Chinese government may use this to spy on the Philippine military. Part of the Dito consortium is China Telecom, a state-owned company of Beijing.

Distrust of China among Filipino continues to remain high based on public surveys, as China continues to have a dispute with the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea.

Under Chinese laws, state-owned companies like China Telecom may be obliged to divert or intercept internet traffic, or access state secrets in its operations.

Lorenzana said the military has similar arrangements with the two other telcos, Globe and PLDT-Smart.

According to Lorenzana, wherever the two firms have their facilities is also where Dito will place its facilities.

“So we will assess the security implications of this,” he said.

Dito has previously assured the public that it would not use its equipment and facilities for espionage.

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TAGS: China-backed telco deal, Delfin Lorenzana, National security
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