Recto warns of ‘electronic Trojan horse’ in military camps

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Sen. Ralph Recto has criticized the government’s approval of the use of military camps as cell site locations for China-backed telco Dito Telecommunity.

Sen. Ralph Recto

In a statement on Thursday, Sept. 10, Recto said the country has enough space where the new telco can build its cell towers.  

“The Philippines has a land area of 30 million hectares, with military installations occupying a fraction of it, maybe not even 1/10th of 1 percent of the total,” he noted.

“Dito can build their sites anywhere in this wide expanse of land — and government should help them — except in the 25 Navy bases and stations, 53 Army bases, and 17 air bases and stations, which should be declared as no-go zones for this company,” the lawmaker said.

Dito, which is 40-percent owned by China Telecom, has been allowed by the government to put up cell sites inside the country’s military camps through a agreement signed by Department of Defense (DND) secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Dito CEO Dennis Uy. Lorenzana said Dito will put up towers in camps where both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications already have existing cell sites.  

But Recto said the military is not a big landlord whose holdings are crucial in a telco’s operations. “Why insist on building on military real estate?” he asked.

He said Dito should instead explore building towers in the almost 50,000 public school and state university campuses where it can pay rent in cash and provide free broadband for students.

“For 50 years now, the military has enjoyed a most-favored agency status, as affirmed in the annual national budget. It does not need a land lease sideline business to augment its budget,” he said.

“More so if the tenant is 40-percent owned by a state-owned foreign company whose principal allegiance, under the laws of that country, is to its government,” he stressed.

Recto added: “I am not yet ready to fully subscribe to suspicions that having them inside these national security compounds is like letting in an electronic Trojan horse. But it is better to be safe than sorry.”

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