THE Duterte administration is not opening its doors to foreign telecommunications companies unless they are from China, a Malacanang spokesman said on Tuesday.
Secretary Harry Roque issued the statement as President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for allegedly favoring the entry of China Telecom.
Lawmakers raised security concerns over the entry of a telecommunications firm from China amid the ongoing territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila.
“It was brought up in bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China. And the eventual player that was chosen by China, China Telecom, without a doubt is one of the biggest in the world. It was intended to strengthen our bilateral ties with China, coupled with the fact that given the huge telecoms market in China, Chinese companies ought to have already technical know-how in providing competent and reliable telecom services,” Roque said.
“[But] well, right now, let’s see [for other foreign players]because there’s a third operator that was invited to come in…that’s already fraught with challenges,” Roque added.
China Telecom isn’t the first Chinese company to do business with the Philippines.
Previous contracts, however, were fraught with allegations of corruption.
The $329 million National Broadband Network (NBN) project with Chinese firm ZTE was cancelled by then President Gloria Arroyo in 2007 due to allegations of overpricing.
Another botched project with a Chinese firm was the Northrail project, which was supposed to connect Caloocan City to Bulacan but was shelved due to alleged irregularities in the contract. Based on Commission on Audit findings, the Philippine government overpaid the Chinese contractor for the project by at least $129 million.
Roque, however, assured the public that security concerns with China or any other country for that matter would be taken into consideration.
“As far as security considerations are concerned, we will look into that because there are really concerns on cyber security in general,” Roque added.