Lorenzana clueless on AFP telecom deal

September 16, 2019

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was not aware of the deal forged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with Dito Telecommunity Corp. that would allow the China-linked telco firm to build facilities in military camps and installations.

In a Palace briefing yesterday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said: “The DND Secretary texted me about it and he said he doesn’t know anything about it and he is going to investigate and ask the concerned people involved in the deal so we’ll wait for his findings.”

Dito Telecommunity Corp., formerly known as Mislatel consortium, is a joint venture led by Duterte friend and Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy with state-run China Telecom to provide telco services in the Philippines.
The AFP and Dito have signed a deal on August 13, allowing the third telco player in the country to build its communication facilities inside military camps and installations.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has slammed the deal, saying “the planned installation of electronic communications inside our military camps raises fears of electronic espionage and interference given the record of some Chinese firms for engaging in this illegal activity.”

Sought for comment, Panelo said: “I’m sure the DND secretary and Mr. Esperon will be undertaking measures to respond to that concern.”

Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the government could abandon the deal if it would risk the country’s national security.

“Certainly,” the Palace official noted. “If it involves national security, then this government can do something about it.”