China-backed DITO allowed to install cell sites inside military camps: Lorenzana

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2020 06:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 08 2020 07:43 PM

China-backed DITO allowed to install cell sites inside military camps: Lorenzana 1
DITO Telecommunications and Udenna Corporation headquarters in Taguig City on February 20, 2020. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — DITO Telecommunity, the country's third telecommunications player, has been given the go-signal to install cell sites inside the country's military bases, the country's defense chief confirmed Tuesday, despite concerns over its national security implications over Chinese involvement in the consortium. 

During the House of Representatives hearing on the budget proposal of the Department of Defense (DND), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has approved the 2019 Memorandum of Agreement between DITO Telecommunity and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that would allow the telco to put up towers in select military camps.

Lorenzana said he approved the deal "recently."

DITO, the consortium of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics with China Telecom, is fasttracking its commercial rollout set in March 2021. 

Formerly know as Mislatel, DITO was granted a fresh 25-year franchise by Congress last August.

Lorenzana clarified that the memorandum of agreement he approved between AFP and DITO covers only military camps which already host Globe and Smart cell sites.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, meanwhile, expressed concern and asked Lorenzana to review the deal.

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. 

DITO committed to provide internet speeds of up to 27 mbps and 37-percent coverage during its launch next year. 

So far, out of the target 1,300 towers, 300 were "live" and 500 have been erected, the consortium earlier said.