Lorenzana urged to rescind deal allowing DITO to install cell towers at military bases

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2020 03:11 PM

A cellular site tower in Caloocan City on August 06, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Friday urged the Department of National Defense to rescind an agreement allowing China-backed DITO Telecommunity Corp. to put up cell sites inside military facilities, saying it could "compromise" the country's security.

"More technologically advanced" countries have been banning Chinese telcos over "possible spying" after China passed a law that obliges its citizens to support intelligence work, Pangilinan said in a statement.

"That should have been an eye-opener for us. Dapat natuto rin tayo sa karanasan nila (We should have learned from their experience)," he said.

"The secretary should rescind the deal as it compromises the security of our citizens and our country as whole, especially security of our data, which is the currency of this century."

The statement came days after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana -- who had earlier waned about China's espionage -- "recently" approved a contract allowing China-backed DITO Telecommunity to build facilities inside some military camps.

The third telco is a joint venture between state-owned China Telcom, and Davao businessman and Duterte campaign contributor Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp.

While the deal was approved last year, "recent developments in the past 3 or 4 months give us serious reason to revisit the approval," the opposition senator said.

Pangilinan said the Philippines should stop giving concessions to China as it continues its incursion in the West Philippine Sea, with some of its vessels involved in allisions with 2 Filipino fishing boats.

"Parang meron tayong kapitbahay na nang-aangkin ng ating bakuran at papapasukin pa natin para magbantay ng bakuran natin," he said.

"We have serious doubts that we have in our possession the most modern technology and equipment to monitor cyber security threats kaya dapat pawalang-bisa na 'yung kontrata (that's why we have to rescind the deal).

DITO Telecommunity earlier said that its equipment, devices and structures that would be constructed in military bases will not be used to obtain classified information.