MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday defended the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to invite a Chinese firm to become the third player in the Philippines’ telecommunications industry, saying it was a “political decision” meant to boost Manila’s ties with Asia’s largest economy.
Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said over the weekend that Beijing chose China Telecom for the Philippine market, following Duterte’s invitation to Beijing to bring in a third telco player for the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippines stands to benefit from the vast experience of China Telecom in the field.
“China Telecom, without doubt, is one of the biggest in the world. And, of course, we want to avail of the fact that we’re very proximate to China ‘no,” Roque said in a news briefing.
“But it was a political decision of the President to offer it to a Chinese company. Intended, I guess, also to strengthen our bilateral ties with China.”
Roque also allayed fears that China could use the state-run firm to steal private and sensitive information.
“As far as security considerations are concerned, we will look into that because there are really concerns overall on cyber security in general. And it’s been a priority of the government anyway,” he said.
PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom are the 2 major carriers in the country.
San Miguel Corp sold its telecommunications assets to the 2 giants last year and abandoned its plan to be the third player.
Before China Telecom can enter the Philippine market, it would need to find a local partner, in compliance with the Constitution, unless the charter is revised to allow full foreign ownership.