“The entry of a Chinese company into the local telecommunication industry is a welcome development given the present state and quality of the Internet and telecom services in the country, which is among the slowest in Asia,” Drilon said in a statement.
“Indeed, a lot has to be done in order for the country to improve on this aspect. We need more competition,” he said. “However, we should exercise caution and the government should look into the security aspect of this undertaking,” he stressed.
The minority leader noted that these Chinese companies are state-owned while those operating in the Philippines are purely private.
“The Chinese government is already an investor in our national grid. The government should look into this matter,” he said.
Aside from Drilon, other members of the Senate minority bloc—particularly Senators Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV and Leila de Lima—also warned of the possible repercussions of giving Chinese businesses the right to be part of the telecom industry.
Aquino said the government should also consider opening up the telco industry to other countries that are also keen on investing in the Philippines.
De Lima, on the other hand, urged the Duterte government to look into the other countries that entered into an agreement with China and later on suffered in lopsided deals.
She also said the government should ensure that national security, communications and defense capabilities of the nation are not compromised.
Under Duterte’s order, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will allow China Telecom to start operating in the Philippines in the first quarter of 2018.