Senate urged to probe 'irresponsible' military, Chinese-linked telco deal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2019 01:42 PM

MANILA - Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday filed a resolution urging the Senate to probe an agreement between the Armed Forces and Chinese-linked telco firm Dito Telecommunity Corp. to construct facilities inside military camps.

Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 137, saying there was "an urgent need" to determine if the agreement complied with the law.

She said deal allowed lease of portions of military bases, which would violate Section 88 of the Public Land Act that states, "military reservations cannot be subject to lease, occupation, entry, sale, or other disposition, until declared alienable by provisions of the Act or by proclamation by the President.” 

The senator also cited the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act, which stated that any “sale, lease or joint development of military reservations must be authorized by Congress.” 

"Sa isang panahon na patuloy ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea, napaka-iresponsable na pumasok tayo sa mga kasunduan sa kanila na hindi sinusuri ang epekto nito sa ating pambansang seguridad at kaligtasan," she said in a statement.

(At a time when China continues to intrude in the West Philippine Sea, it is extremely irresponsible to enter into an agreement with them without scrutinizing its effects on our national security.)

Malacañang earlier said the Department of Defense would look into the deal after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was unaware of the agreement.

Hontiveros hit the government for keeping the defense chief out of the loop, who she said was also unaware of the reported Chinese development of three key Philippine islands.

"Is there now a 'sign first, worry about security later' policy under this administration?" she said.

"Ito na ang pangalawang beses na hindi nakonsulta ang defense secretary tungkol sa mga diumanong Chinese deals na pinapasok ng ating pamahalaan na may seryosong implikasyon sa ating pambansang seguridad," Hontiveros said.

(This was the second time that the defense secretary was not consulted regarding Chinese deals our government entered into which has serious implications in our national security.)

Sen. Francis Pangilinan earlier said he would raise the matter during Senate deliberations on the DND and AFP's budget.