Esperon allays fears of espionage over telco deal with AFP
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Thursday downplayed spying concerns after a Filipino venture with state-run China Telecom recently signed an agreement to build telco facilities inside military camps.
The issue again cast the spotlight on the Duterte administration’s friendlier ties with China, which has built and militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The previous day, opposition Sen. Leila de Lima called the agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito Telecommunity, owned by the group of Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy and China Telecom, a “Trojan horse” and a threat to national security.
Speaking to the Inquirer, Esperon said the matter was under Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who has yet to give his final approval for the project.
But Esperon said he remained confident in the AFP’s ability to keep military communications safe.
“It’s a technical matter that can be overcome with technical matters,” Esperon said in an interview at the Senate.
“I believe in the character and technological capacity of the Armed Forces in terms of communications security. After all, communications security started with the Armed Forces,” he added.
Esperon was previously part of a special committee that oversaw the selection of a new telco player to enhance competition and challenge industry incumbents PLDT and Globe Telecom.
Dito, formerly known as Mislatel, emerged as the winner in bidding held late last year.
The deal with the AFP benefits Dito in its tough roll-out commitments especially in terms of coverage.
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