Press Release
September 17, 2019


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the national security implications of an alleged agreement allowing Dito Telecommunity Corp., a Chinese telecommunications firm formerly known as Mislatel Consortium, to set up equipment and facilities within military bases in the country.

The Senator filed Senate Resolution No. 137 after Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that he was unaware of the alleged agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Mislatel, a joint venture between President Rodrigo Duterte's friend, businessman Dennis Uy, with state-run China Telecom.

"Left in the dark, clueless"

Hontiveros said that this is the second time that Lorenzana was "left in the dark" and "clueless" about Chinese deals with serious national security implications. Last month, the defense secretary said that he was not consulted regarding the security issues surrounding the plan to allow Chinese firms to develop three Philippine islands, which he said are strategic maritime fronts that play a significant role in Philippine military history.

"Sign first, worry about security later"

"Is there now a 'sign first, worry about security later' policy under this administration? Ito na ang pangalawang beses na hindi nakonsulta ang defense secretary tungkol sa mga diumanong Chinese deals na pinapasok ng ating pamahalaan na may seryosong implikasyon sa ating pambansang seguridad," Hontiveros said.

"Sa isang panahon na patuloy ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea, napaka-iresponsable na pumasok tayo sa mga kasunduan sa kanila na hindi sinusuri ang epekto nito sa ating pambansang seguridad at kaligtasan," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros explained that under the said agreement, the Chinese Telecom will be tasked with building and deploying Dito's actual telecommunications infrastructure to be installed "on land leased within military bases," thus raising fears over the possibility of espionage and other security risks. She said that Chinese corporations are obligated to support state intelligence-gathering efforts under Article 7 of China's National Intelligence Law, which requires that "any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law." She said that Chinese corporations cannot refuse to assist such acts of espionage, since China's Counter-Espionage Law requires that "when the state security organ investigates and understands the situation of espionage and collects relevant evidence, the relevant organizations and individuals shall provide it truthfully and may not refuse."

"There is an urgent need to determine whether or not the presence of Chinese facilities in military bases and installations undermines national security and whether or not the lease agreements entered into for this purpose comply with applicable law," Hontiveros said.

The Senator said that the provisions of the said agreement allowing lease of portions of military bases may be in violation of Section 88 of the Public Land Act, which states that "military reservations cannot be subject to lease, occupation, entry, sale, or other disposition, until declared alienable by provisions of the Act or by proclamation by the President," and the AFP Modernization Act, which states that any "sale, lease or joint development of military reservations must be authorized by Congress."

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