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Senate OKs DND budget for 2020

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 04:38 PM November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate on Wednesday approved the Department of National Defense’s budget (DND) for 2020 despite questions raised on the planned installations of a third telecommunications within military camps.

The P191.34 billion budget approved by the chamber was slightly higher than the P189. 6 billion budget passed by the House of Representatives.

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The budget approval came despite questions raised over the China-linked Dito Telecommunity Corp.’s plan to build facilities in military camps and installations.

The issue was the subject of opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s lengthy interpellations on the DND’s budget.

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READ: Kiko Pangilinan slams deal between AFP and Chinese-backed telco

In particular, Pangilinan questioned a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Dito allowing the new telco to build its communications facilities in military camps and installations.

Dito, formerly Mislatel, is a consortium of Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Corporation, and Chinese state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation, a parent company of China Telecom.

“While Huawei is not involved directly in this memorandum of agreement, China Telecom is somehow involved because it is the China Telecom that is in partnership with Dito,” Pangilinan said.

“China Telecom, unlike Huawei is a state-owned company. We are concerned about precisely the involvement of China Telecom,” he added.

The senator also pointed out China’s laws on espionage where its government could mobilize its citizens and organizations to support their espionage activities and information and intelligence gathering.

“And that’s why there’s a really need to ensure that we have the highest safeguards in place or highest security measure in place with respect to this particular MOA,” he said.

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Pangilinan repeatedly stressed though he was not against the agreement as he just wants to make sure there are “clear cut safeguards” that would protect the national interest and security.

“We don’t wish to delay, we understand that a third telco is important, is critical for better services of telco industry but we’d just like to enter this with our eyes wide open,” he said. /jpv

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TAGS: budget, China, Defense, Dito, DND, Philippines, Security, Senate, Telco
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