Fate of AFP-Dito telco deal out soon
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will decide in a week whether or not to approve the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and China-linked Dito Telecommunity Corp. to put up telecommunication facilities inside military camps.
Lorenzana said he would wait for the recommendations of the legal officers of the Department of National Defense (DND) but added that the MOA could still be amended since he was the approving authority.
Dito, formerly Mislatel consortium, includes Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp. and China Telecom. It has been granted the status of the third telecom player in the country.
“I will act according to national interest,” Lorenzana told senators at the hearing on the DND budget after lawmakers raised concern over the security implications of the MOA.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he expected Lorenzana to exercise good judgment regarding the MOA and to introduce amendments if he saw something contrary to law.
Drilon had raised concern about the MOA, saying it could lead to China having 130 listening posts in military camps since Dito wanted its towers to be located where Globe and Smart towers were located.
The presence of China in military camps has to be addressed, he added.
Lorenzana said he would talk to the AFP about this, but added that the fear might be unfounded since Globe and Smart had been using systems from Huawei, a Chinese firm.
Risk analysis review
He also noted that Congress had approved the franchise of Mislatel, Dito’s predecessor.
The matter now confronting the DND was a security issue, not a legal one, he said.
“The concern is, there are many places where they can put up the towers, why does it have to be inside military camps?” he said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan also asked Lorenzana to defer action on the MOA pending its risk analysis review.
“A risk analysis that will say that the technology is safe and secure is essential so that we have a better sense of how prepared we are for the technology —should we allow telco towers to be set up in our military camps,” Pangilinan said at the hearing on the DND budget.
An independent party must conduct its own cybersecurity risk assessment, he added.
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