DND chief to scrutinize AFP co-location MOA with telco firm

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he will study and assess the possible security implications of the co-location memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) with Dito Telecommunity (formerly Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company or Mislatel) last September 11.

“Of course, I have concerns, but I will have to look at the agreement (first). It still has to reach (my office by Sunday) but it could have been submitted today (Monday). I will look at it thoroughly to determine what it contains,” Lorenzana said in Filipino, on the sidelines of the activation ceremonies for the four brand-new amphibious assault vehicles and three multi-purpose attack crafts at Philippine Navy headquarters in Roxas Boulevard, Manila late Monday afternoon.

This is in response to concerns expressed by various sectors, citing that the move may affect national security.

The DND chief was on an official trip abroad when the MOA was signed.

Lorenzana, however, stressed that all Dito Telecommunity equipment and facilities will be placed in locations where local carriers, Smart and Globe, are also located, based on a similar MOA signed with these telecommunication firms.

“Smart and Globe also has many towers (inside our) camps. The third telco will have to place their facilities near these sites,” he said.

“So we will assess what the possible security implication this deal (will entail),” said Lorenzana, adding that they will see to it that the country’s interests are protected.

The defense chief also said he may revoke the deal if it will compromise national security.

“If needed. the MOA is not yet final. As per (Presidential Spokesperson) Secretary (Salvador) Panelo, the (deal is) not yet final. It can still be cancelled or revoked,” Lorenzana said.

Also, the DND chief said that his approval or signature is needed for the MOA to be approved as he is the approving authority.

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, AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., 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. PNA.GOV.PH