No security breach in AFP-Dito deal – Palace official

September 18, 2019

MALACAÑANG assured the public yesterday that there was “no breach of security” in the deal forged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with Dito Telecommunity Corp. which would allow the China-backed firm to build facilities in military camps and installations.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar issued the statement as he allayed fears that the deal allowing Dito to put up facilities inside military camps and installations would put the Philippines’ national security at risk.

Dito Telecommunity Corp., formerly known as Mislatel consortium, is a joint venture led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom.

It was picked by the government as the third major telecommunications service provider in the Philippines.

The AFP and Dito recently inked the deal to put up electronic communications equipment inside military camps.

Andanar said “[t]hePalace  welcomes the assurance of concerned agencies knowledgeable on telecommunications operations, particularly the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), that the concerns, including fears bordering on paranoia, of some quarters on the memorandum of agreement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with DITO Telecommunity, formerly Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. or Mislatel, have been thoroughly addressed by our security and information technology experts.”

“The Constitution is very clear: The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people. To serve and protect covers safeguarding their interests, such as security and cybersecurity interests,” he said.

“We are confident there would be no breach in security as safeguard measures would be put in place as a matter and part of security protocols,” he added.

“These may include strict security clearances to individuals and information to ensure that no unauthorized data can enter or get out of military facilities where cell sites would be installed.”

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was unaware of the deal between AFP and Dito.

Lorenzana, who was on official business overseas when the deal was signed, said he would scrutinize the agreement upon his return later this week.

Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the government could abandon the deal if national security risks are established.