Recently, the Philippines government inked a deal with Dito Telecommunity Corp., in which China Telecom Corporation has a majority stake. Dito is contracted to build cell towers in military camps across the country, reported PhilStar Global.
On Friday, Philippines Sen. Francis Pangilinan appealed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to void the contract as “it compromises the security of our citizens and our country as a whole, especially security of our data, which is the currency of this century.”
In light of the U.S. repeatedly warning allies against engaging with Chinese manufacturer Huawei, Pangilinan added, “Countries more technologically advanced have actually banned or reconsidered business deals with…Huawei Technologies…due to possible spying. That should have been an eye-opener for us.”
Pangilinan is the latest official to raise concern over working with Dito, but not the only one with objections to the deal; at least three other officials have spoken out regarding the contract. “We have serious doubts that we have in our possession the most modern technology and equipment to monitor cybersecurity threats. This is why we should void the contract,” Pangilinan said.
China Telecom Corporation holds 40 percent ownership of Dito, with Udenna Corporation and its subsidiaries rounding out the other 60 percent. According to PhilStar Global, both Udenna and its subsidiaries are owned by Filipino-Chinese businessman Dennis Uy, a friend of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Sixteen hundred citizens have signed a Change.org petition to “stop the entry of Dito Telecommunity into the Philippine telco industry until its risks to the country are thoroughly assessed.”