A petition has been launched asking Congress to stop the entry of the China-backed Dito Telecommunity (formerly Mislatel or Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company) as the third telecommunications company in the country because of concerns of national security and invasion of privacy.
“We started this petition to the Philippine Congress to stop the entry of Dito Telecommunity into the Philippine telco industry until its risks to the country are thoroughly assessed,” according to the petition filed on Change.org.
The petition can be viewed here: https://www.change.org/p/we-started-this-petition-to-the-philippine-congress-to-stop-the-entry-of-dito-telecommunity-into-the-philippine-telco-industry-until-its-risks-to-the-country-are-thoroughly-assessed
Last Aug. 25, the House of Representatives approved in less than three months House Bill 7332, which granted a 25-year franchise to DITO Telecommunity after its current franchise under Mislatel expires in 2023.
The petition has raised serious concerns about Dito Telecommunity’s operations in the Philippines.
“Dito's technological partner is China Telecom, a telecommunications company owned by the Chinese government. Fact: China’s laws mandate its companies to provide intelligence to the government,” one of the points raised in the petition.
It said that “China Telecom predominantly uses equipment from yet another Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, for its infrastructure. In recent years, Huawei has been under fire for alleged cybersecurity violations, resulting in the company being banned or effectively being banned in several countries.”
By allowing China Telecom to operate in the country, “the Philippines is essentially giving Huawei free access to our data, whether it be government, military, corporate or personal. This gives China unprecedented potential to control sensitive aspects of our lives and our country's governance.”
Dito Telecommunity is led by Davao City-based businessman Dennis Uy and is composed of his Udenna Corp. along with its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics.
In March, the House of Representatives approved on final reading House Bill 78, which will amend the Public Service Act.
“It's noteworthy that House Bill (HB) 78 conveniently seeks to allow 100% foreign ownership of telecommunications companies in the Philippines, giving rise to questions of China Telecom's real plan in the country, given Uy's apparent cooperativeness. The bill is currently pending in the Senate,” the petition added.
The petition urged the Philippine government to “take a closer look at Dito and determine where its loyalties lie. Otherwise, this "cure" for the Philippines' telco problem may turn out to be terminal cancer.”
“It is true that the current offerings of the country's telco players need significant improvement. However, we must ask: ‘Will a 3rd telco with ties to the Chinese government actually help us out? Or is it some form of Trojan Horse that will be the cause of added woes?’”
It urged people to “sign this petition to let our legislators know that we do not agree to having our lives taken over by a foreign power. Demand that Congress scrutinize if what Dito Telecommunity brings to the country is truly to the benefit of our national interests.”
“In signing, send a strong appeal to our countrymen not to be lured by money and to reject all offers to lease their land for cell sites, to bar Dito from proceeding until such time as an investigation is conducted,” the petition said.