Duterte: No corruption in selecting third telco player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte defended the selection of the third major telecommunications player in the country.

"There is no corruption at all. I guarantee you upon the grave of my father, I do not allow, I do not talk to them, I just say just do your work," Duterte said during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Dito Telecommunity, formerly Mislatel Consortium, was selected as third major telecommunications player in November last year, through a bidding process handled by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

"I challenge this new player to fulfill its commitment to provide fast and reliable telecommunication services to our people, especially to the under-served areas," Duterte said, telling newly appointed Information and Communications Secretary Gringo Honasan to handle issues on the third telco.

In a text to CNN Philippines, Dito Telecommunity spokesperson Adel Tamano said they will do just that.

"DITO TELECOMMUNITY shall fulfill its commitment to have 5G coverage of 84 percent of the population in five years, providing telecom services to the underserved areas. We are committed to reforming the telecom industry and give Filipinos the world-class service that they deserve," Tamano said in a statement.

Davao-based business man Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation has a 35 percent stake in the company. Chelsea Logistics, a subsidiary of Udenna Corporation, has a 25 percent stake.

Meanwhile, state-owned China Telecom has a 40 percent stake in Dito Telecommunity, the maximum control a foreign company can have on a local teleco.

Dito Telecommunity acquired the franchise of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Corporation, Inc. (Mislatel) to participate in last year's selection process.

It beat the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and SEARS Telecom, due to technicalities.

Later in November, the Senate held a hearing on the the possible cyber security risks that could come from the amount of control a Chinese government-owned company has on a telco.

Dito Telecommunity will roll out its services by mid-2020.

In a previous interview with CNN Philippines, Tamano said that the company is Filipino-owned and controlled.

"Dito is a Filipino company. The officers are Filipino. And we will never allow China or any country to undermine our national security or cybersecurity," Tamano said.

READ: Dito Telecommunity pushes back rollout to 2020

CNN Philippines correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report.