AFP inks deal allowing presence of Chinese-linked 3rd telco in military bases

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2019 06:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2019 09:37 AM

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday signed a deal with the consortium tapped to be the Philippines' third telecommunications player, allowing the Chinese-linked firm to put its system, towers, and facilities within military bases in the country.

The Dito Telecommunity Corporation, which received its license to operate last July, is composed of China Telecom and Udenna Corporation led by businessman Dennis Uy. Formerly known as Mislatel, the Dito consortium is expected to begin commercial operations by 2020.

Udenna Corporation is in charge of providing local knowledge and footprint in the business, while China Telecom will build and deploy the actual telecoms infrastructure. 

The foreign company will also have a hand in all technical requirements that the third telco may have, said Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer and spokesperson of the Dito consortium.

Many critics have expressed fear that the upcoming telco, because of its links, will be used by China to tap into all communications of anyone in the Philippines -- be they citizens, government officials or military officers.

But Tamano dispelled such fears, saying the Philippine government has approved measures that would keep the country's communication systems safe and secure from foreign espionage.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said they were merely giving the third telco a fair shake since network powers Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. have presence in military bases.