Dispatch from Crame No. 424: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Third Telco Player & Cronyism


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A lot of things did not seem right when Mislatel was awarded the bid to become the Philippines’ third telco player.

Mislatel Consortium is composed of Dennis Uy’s corporations and the Chinese government-owned China Telecom. Dennis Uy is closely associated with President Duterte as a major campaign donor. Duterte, on the other hand, already assured as early as months before the bidding that he favors a Chinese firm to become the third telco player.

Duterte’s bias for his campaign donor and China Telecom, resulting in the selection of Mislatel and the disqualification of its rivals, has in fact been flagged by market think tank Fitch Solutions. And beyond China Telecom’s technical competence are questions raised concerning our own national security, as we readily open up our communications industry to China, the world’s leading practitioner of cyber-surveillance.

What smacks of Duterte cronyism has been roundly criticized in public and social media. But beyond that, not a single government institution, foremost among them the Ombudsman, has minded to step in and investigate the apparent windfall in government contracts achieved by Dennis Uy as Duterte’s apparent businessman of choice. There is no doubt that the Davao-based businessman is always favored by Duterte. This in itself should already constitute a prima-facie case for investigation under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The question that should be asked and answered is that beyond Uy’s generous donation to Duterte’s campaign, what are the other financial links that bind the two. Given the power dynamics of one being the highest government-official and the other being his campaign financier, the fact that the latter is now the beneficiary of government-awarded major contracts raises questions of Duterte’s own personal interest in the success of Uy’s businesses.

Neither is it superficial to suppose that there is here more than an innocent friendship, but a business partnership made profitable through the abuse of government power. In short, all the necessary ingredients of plunder and corruption are present here. But no one in government seems to be interested in what Duterte’s share is in the cooking.

The alarm bells on Duterte cronyism are ringing loud in Dennis Uy’s pacman-like gobbling of government contracts, the foremost being the telco award to Mislatel. Did it just so happen that a Davao-based businessman and Duterte campaign donor suddenly just got so lucky with government largesse under Duterte’s administration? Of course not. We were not born yesterday. In fact, we have coined a word for it. Every time a politico-businessman partnership like this is cooked up, we call it a “lutong macao”. How appropriate that China is now in the cooking mix for good. ###

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