Gov't assures communication will be secure despite doubts raised on third telco player

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) —  National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Thursday urged Filipinos not to be alarmed about supposed security issues regarding the country's third provisional major telco player as the government played a role in the selection process.

In a media briefing in Malacañang, Esperon noted that communication security problems are well taken care of as the secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is a former military officer.

"Sanay 'yan sa technology (He's used to technology)," Esperon said of DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., who also served the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a Brigadier General.

"Meron siyang expertise, at may military. (With regards to) intelligence, I agree lagi nating titingnan (ang) security ng ating communications."

[Translation: He has expertise, and then there's the military. With regards to intelligence, I agree we have to always look at the security of our communications.]

The government on Wednesday decided to name the Mislatel Consortium as the provisional new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market.

The consortium is composed of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation based in Davao City and its logistics arm, Chelsea Logistics Holdings, partnered with the state-owned China Telecommunications, and the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Corporation, Inc. (Mislatel).

The confederation became the lone qualified bidder upon the selection panel's review of requirements.

Esperon said authorities had put provisions in the selection process concerning national security upon the anticipated entry of the player.

"(It's) well taken care of… But we must say that the process has been transparent," he said. "It was meant to provide the consumers with cheap communications, high speed, with better coverage, and cheaper rates."

"Secured po 'yun, huwag kayong mag-alala," he added. (It's secured, don't worry).

He also addressed the criticized partnership with China Telecom, saying that most of our phone systems came from China.

"Fair game lahat 'yun," Esperon said of the selections' terms of reference. "Ngayong pumasok ang China Telecom, bakit tayo ma-aalarma? Eh alam ba ninyo, sa mga telepono natin ngayon, 'yung ginagamit na system natin dyan ay (Huawei)? Eh saan ba galing yun?"

[Translation: It's all fair game. But now that China Telecom has entered, why should we be alarmed? Do you know that our phones system is (Huawei)? Where did it come from?]

SEARS Telecom consortium and the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) on Wednesday were disqualified by the National Telecommunications Commission for alleged incomplete documents. The two bidders said they will file a motion for reconsideration on Monday.

CNN Philippines Digital Producers Alyssa Rola and Luchi de Guzman contributed to this report.