AFP says building DITO towers within camps poses 'very low' security risk

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2020 06:17 PM

DITO Telecommunity logo at its office at Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp Headquarters in Taguig. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said Tuesday DITO Telecommunity's proposal to build towers within military camps poses "very low" security risk, allaying concerns on espionage.

Having the facilities of the China-affiliated telco inside Philippine military camps could even be an advantage as this gives officials easy access to conduct "unannounced" inspections, Gapay said in an online press briefing organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).

"Overall, we don't see any security risk. It's very low. And we find it better that they are inside because (we) could have unannounced inspection. We could inspect them midnight, anytime of the night, early morning, wee hours. We can do that if they are inside. So, there is that full control of their operations," Gapay said.

"As far as the security aspect is concerned, putting up of towers and communication facilities inside camps pose a low risk, as far as security concern," he added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said he recently approved a Memorandum of Agreement between DITO and the AFP that would allow the telco to put up towers in select military camps despite concerns of spying or espionage. 

DITO earlier clarified that it won't allow its facilities to be used for espionage, saying that the company is Filipino-owned. The consortium is composed of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics, which owns 60 percent, and the state-run China Telecom, which holds the remaining 40 percent.

In a virtual briefing, chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said the MOA could be "immediately terminated" when there is an attempt to obtain classified information or spying. 

There are 22 proposed sites that will be evaluated one by one, Gapay said in the FOCAP briefing, adding that there are 2 or 3 more steps before the telco could put up facilities.

DITO earlier said it could likely build some 2,000 towers this year, or more than its first-year commitment of 1,300.

Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc have similar existing deals with the AFP, the third telco has said.

DITO has also submitted a proposal to build facilities within the Department of Education premises such as public schools. DepEd said the proposal is currently being "evaluated."