Gov’t won’t allow info leaks on China CCTV project

MANILA — The Philippine government will not allow China-funded surveillance project to put the country’s national security at risk, Malacañang said on Thursday.

This, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo after Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto earlier raised concern that the surveillance project could pose serious risks to national security or interest. 

“We understand the apprehensions of some senators but necessarily, this government will not allow any security leaks. Di naman tayo papayag doon (We won’t allow it), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

The PHP20-billion surveillance project is a deal forged by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the China International Telecommunications and Construction Corp. (CITCC).

Recto said the DILG and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) failed to provide the Senate with documents regarding the deal.

Panelo noted that he will ask both agencies to explain their failure to submit the necessary documents.

Despite the Senate move blocking the payment for the surveillance project, Panelo emphasized that all projects proposed under the Duterte administration are “important projects.”

“Anything that will contribute to the progress of this country, it’s an important project,” he said.

Panelo added that the President always had the option to veto the provision if he disagrees with it.

“Well, if the President will exercise his power of veto that can be vetoed. What I’m saying is he has the option,” Panelo said.

He said he will ask the President on his reaction on the Senate move to block the payment for the surveillance project.

On Jan. 17, Recto called for a congressional inquiry into the Safe Philippines Project which will be financed and implemented through an official development assistance by the Chinese government.

The Senate added a provision to its version of the PHP3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019 to block payment for the China-funded “Safe Philippines Project” which includes the installation of CCTV systems in public places in Metro Manila and Davao City.

“It is imperative that the Philippine government review and evaluate government programs and projects and their impact on national security and public interest,” Recto said in his resolution. PNA