Tuesday, September 17, 2019

DND wants to look into AFP's pact with telco firm

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 17, 2019): DND wants to look into AFP's pact with telco firm

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong. (File photo)

While stressing that it is not a cause for concern, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said it will still go over the memorandum of agreement (MOA) the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) signed with Dito Telecommunity (formerly Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company or Mislatel).

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, in an interview with reporters, said the military has yet to transmit the MOA to the DND.

"Hindi naman kami (We are not) concerned per se, but of course, gusto naming tingnan yan kung anong napag-usapan nila dun sa (we want to look on what they talked about regarding the) MOA. 'Yun ang context ng sinabi ko, especially ito kasi critical 'yang telecoms eh (That is the context of what I have said especially because telecoms are critical). So, of course, we are concerned but not unusually so kasi talagang pagka may nagtatayo (if there are those who will construct) we are concerned with it," he said.

Also, once the MOA is forwarded to the DND, Andolong said it will pass through all concerned offices for scrutiny.

"Basta pagka-transmit dito yan dadaanan yan nung lahat ng concerned offices katulad sa (Once it is transmitted here, it will be looked into by concerned offices like the) legal affairs, yung aming (our) Assistant Secretary for Installations, dadaan yan sa mga ibang (that will pass through some) usec (undersecretary) bago dumating kay (before reaching) SND (Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana)," he added.

Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato said the military is open to any investigation that will look into its co-location memorandum MOA with Dito Telecommunity.

"We're open to any investigation (on the MOA with Dito Telecommunity) and we're open to show them other details of the MOA," he said in Filipino.

Detoyato added the military has nothing to hide, noting that the AFP made public their MOA signing with Dito Telecommunity last week.

Also, he clarified that the co-location MOA does not automatically mean that the telecommunication firm will set up its equipment inside military camps and bases but on mountain tops or high areas near these facilities which are the traditional sites where relay stations and other communications equipment are installed to insure the efficient propagation of signals.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that he will scrutinize the MOA upon his arrival at the country this coming September 20.

"I am traveling when this came out. When I inquired the CSAFP (Chief of Staff, AFP Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr.) said the MOA is going to my office for my approval. So now I am aware of it and I will scrutinize it carefully before giving my approval. I’ll be back in Manila on the 20th," he added in a message to reporters.

Lorenzana is on an official trip abroad as of this posting. Dito Telecommunity is composed of Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp, and China Telecom.

It was conferred with the status of New Major Player in the telecommunications industry by the National Telecommunications Commission on November 19, 2018.

The AFP and Dito signed the co-location MOA last September 11.

Earlier, Madrigal said there are ongoing efforts and activities to secure all military communications from espionage. Also, the AFP chief bared that partnering with Mislatel is nothing new as similar MOAs have been entered with Smart and Globe.

Based on the agreement, the AFP will determine specific locations with its rental value for use of Mislatel in the installation and management of its communications sites without undermining the operations of affected AFP units.

The telecommunication firm is also required to “furnish all equipment, labor, and materials necessary to effect the co-location of its facilities and shoulders all expenses in connection with or incidental to the co-location” and payment of all taxes, permits, licenses, and other charges.


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