Panelo: Duterte may veto Senate move to block payment for Chinese CCTV project

(Eagle News) —┬áPresident Rodrigo Duterte may veto the Senate’s move to block payment for the P20-billion Chinese closed-circuit television camera project.

This is according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, when asked for his reaction to the Senate’s inclusion of two provisions in its version of the 2019 national budget that have this effect on the Safe Philippines Project.

The first provision, under the Unprogrammed Fund section, specifies that no amount “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 hacking, and other forms of cyber espionage, whether in the Philippines or in other countries.”

The second provision, on the other hand, lists the foreign-assisted projects that may draw from the authorized appropriations for fiscal year 2019.

The project, which was supposed to pilot in Metro Manila and Davao, was not included in the list.

“If the President will exercise his power of veto, that can be vetoed..he has that option,” Panelo said.

It was still unclear, however, if the resulting measure approved by the bicameral conference committee would retain the Senate-proposed provisions.

In a statement, Senator Ralph Recto said the move to block payment for the project was decided on after it was found the “vetting and approval” of such had all the hallmarks of a behest transaction, “lacking in studies, consultations, validation.”

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