Interior and local government undersecretary Epimaco Densing III (left) and incoming DILG secretary Benhur Abalos. (Photo: Philippine News Agency)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — With the expressed desire from the incoming Marcos administration to provide security and advanced monitoring capabilities of illegal or criminal activities throughout the country, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it hoped that with former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. at the helm of the agency, the proposed closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system project that was earlier awarded to a Chinese firm but shelved after security and funding issues were raised, would be revived eventually.
In a statement, interior and local government undersecretary Epimaco Densing III disclosed that he would strongly recommend reviving the project when he and other officials of the department meet with Abalos Jr. for a briefing on his next job.
“It is up to them if they will implement it but this is highly recommended. If the project was started in 2019, it would have been finished by now,” Densing enthused.
Being one of the agreements signed between the Philippines and China during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit to Manila in 2018, the PhP20-billion contract for the project was signed by the DILG with the China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC). Called the Safe PH Project, it seeks to install around 12,000 surveillance cameras in Metro Manila and Davao City to ensure “effective and efficient management of public order, safety and security.”
The Philippine government had agreed to finance the project through a soft loan from China Eximbank, but according to Densing, a loan agreement was signed only late last year. Because of the delayed funding, the DILG could not carry out the project and was prompted to recommend to Malacañang its cancellation instead.
“We let go of this project late last year because we felt that the funding wouldn’t be approved. The funds were not released so we could not start it,” the undersecretary clarified.
However, at this time, the DILG will be seeking new bidders for the project under the next administration if it is implemented, according to Densing.
“We will start a new cycle. I’m handling the special bids and awards committee to choose a supplier,” he concluded. (ai/mtvn)