Chinese-linked DITO vows to comply with PH rules in military bases deal over espionage fears

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2019 06:16 PM | Updated as of Sep 17 2019 11:18 PM

MANILA - Third telecommunications player DITO Telecommunity on Tuesday said it would comply with all government requirements as a Filipino company after signing a deal with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build facilities within military bases.

DITO, a consortium of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics with state-owned China Telecom, said it understood that the deal it signed with the AFP is still subject to the approval of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Lorenza on Monday said he has yet to approve the agreement signed by DITO and the AFP last Sept. 11 since he was out of the country for an official business. The deal has drawn concerns over possible Chinese espionage.

"As a Filipino company, DITO Telecommunity will of course comply with all government requirements...," DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said, adding that both PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom had signed the same deal.

The AFP is also a "bastion of patriotism" that will never allow itself "to be used by a foreign power" against the country's national interest, DITO said.

DITO has a cybersecurity plan and complies with the country's foreign ownership laws, Tamano said. The telco player also allayed fears in using Chinese electronics provider Huawei since both PLDT Inc. and Globe have engaged the services of the Shenzhen-based company.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his recent visit to the Philippines in March, warned allies to "keep eyes wide open" on alleged risks from using a Chinese telecommunications equipment provider.

But DITO said "we have enough laws that cover espionage and other national security [concerns]. While it may be legal for them to give information to their government, it is illegal to do so in the Philippines."

The consortium formerly known as Mislatel received its license to operate in July and is expected to begin commercial operations by 2020.