Senate to probe deal between Chinese-linked telco, PH military during budget hearing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2019 09:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 16 2019 09:45 AM

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MANILA - The Senate will look into the deal between the military and Chinese-linked telco firm Dito Telecommunity Corp. during its deliberations on the 2020 budget, an opposition senator said Monday.

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan described the agreement as "disturbing," saying that no less than the chiefs of the Department of National Defense and National Security Agency have warned against the increasing presence of Chinese nationals in the country.

"It’s like hindi alam nung kanang kamay ano ginagawa ng kaliwang kamay, bakit ganito?" he told ANC's Headstart.

(It's like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, why?)

"This is exhibit A na on the one hand iba ang sinasabi, on the other hand iba ang ginagawa. Gusto natin malaman ano ba talaga ang direksyon natin dito."

(This is exhibit A that on the one hand, they're saying something, on the other hand they're doing another. We want to know our direction here.)

Pangilinan said he will raise the matter during Senate hearings on the budget of the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Dito Telecommunity Corporation is composed of Udenna Corporation, which will provide local knowledge and footprint in the business, and China Telecom, which build and deploy the actual telecoms infrastructure. 

Pangilinan said there are 2 Chinese laws, the National Intelligence Law of 2017 and Counter-Espionage Law of 2014, that require citizens and private firms to cooperate in gathering of intelligence information by Beijing.

The senator said other countries have banned Huawei over national security concerns and also cited Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, which was instructed by China to hand over its list of employees that participated in pro-democracy protests.

"China (Telecom) is a Chinese company, what if the Chinese government says meron kayong access dyan (you have access there), you are mandated to turn over info to us?" he said.

Pangilinan said government should make its foreign policy stand on China clear, citing poll results that showed more than 90 percent of Filipinos are concerned of losing the country's territory to Beijing.

"That alone will tell you that our countrymen are not happy with what’s going on," he said.