Pangilinan raises security concern over AFP-Dito deal

Published September 16, 2019, 11:01 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan on Monday raised anew “national security concern” over the agreement signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and China-backed Dito Telecommunity to put up telecommunications towers inside military bases in the country.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan (JOHN JEROME GANZON / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

Pangilinan warned government authorities about two China laws requiring Chinese firms to “cooperate in gathering of intelligence information by the state.”

He was reacting to the memorandum of agreement (MOA) reached between the Philippine military and Dito, the country’s third telecommunications player.

Formerly Mislatel, Dito is a consortium of Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Corporation, and China telecom.

“There are two Chinese laws that should be a Philippine security concern. One of them is the National Intelligence Law of 2017. The other is Counter-Espionage Law of 2014. Both laws state that organizations – private organizations and citizens – should cooperate in gathering of intelligence information by the state,” Pangilinan said in Filipino during a television interview.

“China Telecom is an organization. It is a Chinese company. What if the Chinese government says, ‘Oh, meron kayong access diyan (You have access there). You are mandated to turn over information to us because we have the Counter-Espionage Law and we have the National Intelligence Law’,” he added.

Pangilinan also pointed out that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had earlier raised national security concerns involving China.

Lorenzana had earlier expressed concerns over the proximity to military camps of POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) offices, which employs Chinese nationals.

On the other hand, Esperon had said he considers the influx of hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals to the country a national security threat.