Recto says military camps should be ‘no-go zones’ for China-backed Dito
MANILA, Philippines — Military camps should be “no-go zones” for China-backed Dito Telecommunity Corp., Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Thursday.
In a statement, Recto pointed out that the Philippines has a land area of 30 million hectares and that military installations only occupy a fraction of this.
“Dito can build their sites anywhere in this wide expanse of land—and government should help them—except in the 25 Navy bases and stations, 53 Army bases, and 17 air bases and stations, which should be declared as no-go zones for this company,” the senator said.
“The military is not that big a landlord whose holdings are crucial in a telco’s operations. Why insist on building on military real estate?” he added.
Recto proposed that Dito instead consider, should health and environmental rules allow it, build its towers in the almost 50,000 public school and state university campuses in the country and “pay rent in cash and in kind [or] in free broadband for the students.”
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed to lawmakers that he has signed a deal with Dito that would allow the company to build cell sites inside Philippine military camps.
But according to Recto, the military no longer needs a “land lease sideline business to augment its budget” since it has “enjoyed a most-favored agency status, as affirmed in the annual national budget.”
“More so if the tenant is 40 percent owned by a state-owned foreign company whose principal allegiance, under the laws of that country, is to its government,” the lawmaker added, referring to Dito.
“I am not yet ready to fully subscribe to suspicions that having them inside these national security compounds is like letting in an electronic Trojan horse. But it is better to be safe than sorry,” he added.
Dito Telecommunity, formerly known as Mislatel, is a consortium led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, which included Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp. and China Telecom.
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