Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said yesterday the project, a CCTV-based emergency response system, was supposed to pilot in Metro Manila and Davao City.
Geremy Pintolo
Senate blocks payment for P20-B Chinese CCTV project
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has sought to block payment for the Chinese-offered “Safe Philippines Project” in its version of the 2019 national budget that would have cost the country P20 billion.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said yesterday the project, a CCTV-based emergency response system, was supposed to pilot in Metro Manila and Davao City.

Recto said the “vetting and approval” of the project has all the hallmarks of a behest transaction, “lacking in studies, consultations, validation.” 

“We have asked for documents from the lead appraisal authority, the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and they cannot provide us any,” Recto said. 

“(The study was) thin and rushed. Usually the documentation for a project of this size is voluminous. In this case, they practically gave us nothing,” he said.

The senator said the alarming trend of the executive branch bloating the public debt by agreeing to donor-driven loans must be slowed down, more so if the process lacks transparency.

“There are many salesmen and agents of foreign projects. So instead of asking funds through the appropriations route, the funding will just be borrowed and the payment  passed to Congress and taxpayers as part of the debt service that is automatically appropriated,” he said.

To address this, the Senate has included in the 2019 national budget it approved Monday two provisions through which multibillion-peso Chinese and other foreign-funded projects unilaterally approved by the executive can be paid.

The provisions, which have the effect of law, guide the release of funds for overseas development aid and other foreign-funded activities. 

The first provision, under the Unprogrammed Fund section of the national budget states:

“No amount appropriated herein shall be utilized for any project intended for public video surveillance and communication system with suppliers or service providers that are considered as serious risks to national security or interest or are involved in cases regarding information leakage, computer or network hackin, and other forms of cyber espionage, whether in the Philippines or in other countries.” 

 

RALPH RECTO
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