SENATE president pro tempore Ralph Recto yesterday questioned a P20 billion appropriation in the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget intended for the installation of CCTV cameras which he had already deleted in the 2019 budget due to lack of transparency in its implementation.
Recto was referring to the P20 billion budget requested by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the installation of some 12,000 CCTVs under the project Safe Philippines in Metro Manila and Davao City with China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC).
The deal between the DILG and CITCC was reached during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines in November 2018.
While Recto said he was not against the installation of the security cameras, he questioned the manner on how the deal was closed and noted that the project lacked feasibility studies, consultation and validation.
He said that as of July 2019, the government has already allotted P7 billion for the project taken from the 2019 proposed national budget.
Recto raised the issue during the plenary deliberation for the budget of the Department of National Defense yesterday.
“Tinanggal ko sa budget. Today nasa budget ulit. Tinanggal ko sa committee report. It was vetoed by the President. So binalik, hindi naman nagastos. And then today, nandiyan na naman (I deleted it in the 2019 national budget. Today it is in the budget proposal again. I struck it out in the committee report. It was vetoed by the President. It was returned because the money was not spent. And then today, it is included again),” Recto said.
Recto said the PNP and AFP must “connive” to monitor the entry of China in the country by way of a number of ways like through telecommunications and the power supply projects.
Recto claimed the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is already co-owned by China.
“That is the point I am going to drive at. Right now ang buong kuryente ng Pilipinas ang nagpapatakbo the state grid of China. All the equipment – written in Chinese. Di naiintindihan ‘yan ng mga tao natin. They can turn it off remotely. Ang gyera naman na darating ganon na, not necessarily missiles. Cyberwar. And what is that?
Telecommunications, di ba? (That is the point I am going to drive at. The country’s electricity supply is now being run by the state grid of China All of the equipment written in Chinese characters which cannot be understood by our people. They can turn it off remotely. War in the future may not necessarily include bombings. Cyberwar. And what is that? Telecommunications isn’t it?),” Recto said.
Recto said the country should allot at least two percent of the Gross Domestic Product for national defense, contrary to the 1.2 percent budget requested by the DND which was at P190 billion.
The DND budget was approved by the plenary Wednesday morning.
The department budget is broken down as follows: P625 million for the Office of the Defense Secretary, P1.3 billion for General Arsenal, P118 million for the National Defense College of the Philippines, P1.236 billion for the Office of Civil Defense, P592 million for the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, P1.754 billion for Veterans Memorial Medical Center, and P185 billion for the whole of AFP.