Not just military bases: DITO wants to build towers in police camps to 'hasten rollout'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2019 07:24 PM

MANILA – Third telco player DITO Telecommunity is seeking approval to build facilities inside police camps nationwide to "hasten rollout" of services, its spokesperson said Thursday.

This followed its signing of a questioned agreement with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build facilities in military camps, which drew concerns as the consortium includes Chinese-owned China Telecom. 

"If we need the services fast, one of the fastest ways to do it is to use existing government facilities. By using these facilities you address the problem of getting permits in regard to site acquisition so you will build towers much, much faster," DITO Telecommunity chief administrative officer Adel Tamano told ANC.

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DITO, the consortium of Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics with China Telecom, recently signed a deal with the AFP to build facilities in military camps. 

The deal has drawn concerns as the Philippines remains locked in a territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea where Beijing has stepped up militarization activities. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he has yet to approve the agreement. 

"Having partnerships with the AFP and the PNP is good for DITO Telecommunity because there is protection in terms of security," he added. 

DITO is also willing to amend provisions in its proposal to the PNP, Tamano said, after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año revealed in a Rappler interview that he sought a review of a provision that stated that any arbitration for future conflicts would be done in a third country. 

“If that’s something we have to amend, let’s amend that. If that’s something that’s going to be a concern from anyone. To put a resolution to that, on the record, I’m saying it now, if that is a concern we can take that out. Again, we as a Filipino company will take every step that is necessary to put people at ease,” Tamano said.

The said provision did not come from DITO, Tamano said, while refusing to reveal further information as the deal has yet to be signed. 

But DITO assured the public that measures to protect national security and Filipino interests are in place amid fears of espionage. 

Tamano reiterated that the third telco is a Filipino company and was legally granted a franchise to operate even if the consortium includes China Telecom. 

“These issues about China Telecom being our partner, we applied for approval from Congress for the change in controlling interest, they approved it and they did not say that we cannot allow you to have a franchise, DITO Telecommunity, because one of your consortium members is China,” Tamano said. 

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