By Martin Sadongdong
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was inclined to approve the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and China-backed Dito Telecommunity that would enable the third telco to establish its communication equipment in military installations.
“I most probably will sign it,” Lorenzana said on Thursday night when asked on the status of the AFP-Dito deal a month after it was signed by the concerned parties.
“[There is] nothing wrong [in the MOA], it’s the same as Globe and Smart,” he added, referring to the military’s deals with the two other leading telecommunications companies in the country.
He said he has yet to sign the MOA because during the recent Defense department’s budget deliberation, senators asked him to submit the contract for the Dito deal, as well as the two other telcos.
“According to them, they are going to look at it. They [contracts] have been with them for two weeks already… two and a half weeks,” he shared.
The AFP and Dito, formerly Mislatel, signed the MOA on September 11.
The agreement was heavily criticized what with the concerns of possible espionage, especially that China Telecom is included in the Dito consortium.
China Telecom, which owns 40 percent of Dito, is a Chinese government-owned company. Chinese companies are mandated by its laws to provide intelligence to its government.
However, Lorenzana earlier assured that safeguards will be put in place to avoid future threats in the national security.
President Duterte earlier dismissed fears of possible espionage with the establishment of communication towers in military installations, saying other countries can spy even from afar.