Youth group airs concern over AFP-Dito telecoms pact

A youth group is worried about the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) agreement with Dito Telecommunity that allows the China-backed telecommunications company build cell towers inside military bases.

“The DND and AFP agreement with Dito Telecommunity is alarming; it’s like our national security officials are forcing an amnesia over our sovereignty issues with China,” Akbayan Youth chair Dr. RJ Naguit said.

“Why is Dito insisting on building its cell towers on our military bases and why is the military allowing this?” he asked.

The group joined calls to probe the AFP agreement with Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s Dito Telecommunity, a joint venture between the Udenna Corp. and Chelsea Logistics, and Beijing-run China Telecom to put up 10,000 cell towers in the next five years.

Dito Telecommunity was initially awarded a 25-year franchise from Congress in July 2019 while the deal with AFP was still under review.

Naguit questioned why the military has allowed this telecom to build cell towers inside inside its camps.

“Other countries such as Australia and Japan have already taken action against Chinese telcos accused of spying in their domain, why can’t we do the same if it puts Filipinos’ data in danger?” he said.

Akbayan Youth  urged the Senate Committee on National Defense to hear Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ resolution and investigate the military deal.

“Our lawmakers should look into the possible threats that this may pose and not just take Dito’s word for it,” Naguit said. 

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed recently the contract despite security concerns about the use of cell sites within camps.