The Safe Philippines Project Narrative
2CGPE9T Makati, National Capital Region, Philippines. 12th Sep, 2020. Two men from Makati City hall installs cables for CCTV and surveillance system along Jupiter Street. Credit: George Buid/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
The Safe Philippines Project Narrative
The Safe Philippines Project is a joint project between the governments of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China to ensure the effective and efficient management of public order, safety, and security. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) originally proposed the project as the “National Safe Cities Project”. Eventually, the name was changed to the Safe Philippines Project when the final feasibility study was submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in December 2016. The study was later approved in January 2018.
According to the briefer from the Chinese contractor, China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC), Safe Philippines aims “to reduce crime by at least 15 percent and improve response time by 24 percent”. The project entails installing 12,000 high definition and advanced CCTVs equipped with facial and vehicle recognition software all over the Philippines. Under Phase 1, all cities in Metro Manila and Davao will have a command center where local government units will operate and oversee the monitoring system. A national command center will also be constructed, along with a remote back-up center placed in Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga. The project also plans to establish connections to disaster response agencies in all regions.
Ensuring security, public order, and safety is an essential element of the current administration’s socio-economic agenda as contained in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, released in July 2017. Though the Safe Philippines Project was not explicitly mentioned in this document, it was acknowledged in the Socioeconomic Report 2017 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)—an annual report that summarizes the government’s achievements during the year to meet the goals and targets set in the Philippines Development Plan—for the DILG to proceed with the project.
The Safe Philippines Project is listed as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) within the approval of NEDA. According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the ODA is to come in the form of a soft loan from the China EXIM.
Aside from the soft loan from China EXIM, the Philippines will fund a percentage of the project cost through the national budget—the General Appropriations Act—prepared by the executive branch’s Department of Budget and Management and enacted by the Congress of the Philippines.
The Safe Philippine Project’s implementing agency is the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), under the executive branch of the government. The DILG also oversees the other government agencies involved in the project, namely: the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). The agency also maintains general supervision over all local government units.
Flawed Contractor Selection
Similar to the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (CRPIP) and the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project (NCSW-KDP) previously examined in the BRI Monitor, the contractor’s selection for this project failed to respect existing laws—in this case, the preference for Filipinos and the requirement for competitive bidding.
The Safe Philippines Project appears to be following a combined approach of the CRPIP and the NCWS-KDP selection process. Not much information has been released other than the announcement that the bidding was held and that China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) was eventually selected as the project contractor after the two competitors were disqualified.
The Safe Philippines Project threatens to violate the privacy and confidentiality of individuals and information. Despite this, there seems to be an eerie silence about how this project may contradict the policies and laws of the State. At the very least, there has to be a publicly-available vetting process. However, there has been no statement regarding the project from the government agencies mandated to look after these concerns. There is no information made to the public regarding any coordination between the DILG and the concerned agencies.
A Threat to National Security
China’s involvement in the Safe Philippines Project is controversial because there is an impression among Filipinos that data collected might be used for Chinese intelligence operations in the Philippines. This was also the general sentiment behind the strong opposition to the deal between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and DITO Telecommunity that allowed DITO facilities inside military camps. Adding to the national security scare is the fact that the designated supplier of the CCTVs and other equipment for the project is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. The company has been banned by several countries led by the United States based on allegations of espionage.
Apart from rising concerns over Chinese involvement, there are apprehensions over the government’s overall capacity to operate, maintain, and ensure the cybersecurity of the system from even small, domestic, and localized attacks. Multiple instances of Philippine government data being hacked in recent years are worth noting in this issue.
Transparency and Accountability
News reports abound about the lack of publicly available project information and documents, which hinder a closer inquiry into the project. In particular, conspicuously missing on the internet are the Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement for the Safe Philippine Project, the feasibility study submitted by the DILG to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), bid documents, and even news about the bidding process.
|Project & Contract Phase||Project Information||Score||Response||Link to Information|
|Project Identification||Project owner||Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)||https://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Revised-List-of-IFPs-as-of-19-August-2020.pdf|
|Project name||Safe Philippines Project Phase 1||https://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Revised-List-of-IFPs-as-of-19-August-2020.pdf|
|Project Location||City Governments of Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig, San Juan, and Valenzuela||https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-kicks-off-Safe-Phl-project-thru-MOA-signing-with-5-LGUs-in-Metro-Manila/NC-2019-1287|
|Purpose||The Safe Philippines Phase I Project is a joint project between the governments of the Philippines and People’s Republic of China to ensure the effective and efficient management of public order, safety and security.||https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-Safe-Philippines-project-will-improve-police-response-time-deter-and-reduce-crime/NC-2018-1376|
|Project description||The Safe Philippines Project is projected to level up the 911 emergency system of the DILG-PNP and will be used to improve public safety, evidence collection in the event of criminal activities, incident prevention measures for disaster-related mitigation and response, and police and fire emergency response in addressing traffic and criminal incidents||https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-Safe-Philippines-project-will-improve-police-response-time-deter-and-reduce-crime/NC-2018-1376|
|Project Preparation||Project Scope (main output)||The intelligent video surveillance system shall cover up to 3,000 outdoor CCTV surveillance sites for Metro Manila (NCR) and 500 outdoor CCTV surveillance sites for Davao City. The total quantity of HD cameras operating continuously should be 10,000 cameras for NCR including Jail and 2000 cameras for Davao City. The video transmission network and supporting infrastructure shall be fully scalable without trouble for replacing major components.||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Environmental impact||Not available|
|Land and settlement impact||Not available|
|Contact details||DILG-NAPOLCOM Center, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City. Telephone numbers: 925-1148; 925-0332||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Project budget approval date||The DILG prepared the feasibility study of the National Safe Cities Project which was submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in December 2016 for approval. The name was changed to the Safe Philippines Project together with the submission of the final feasibility study to NEDA which was approved in January 2018.||https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-Safe-Philippines-project-will-improve-police-response-time-deter-and-reduce-crime/NC-2018-1376|
|Project Completion||Project status (current)||Commence construction in 6-8 months (as of February 2020)||http://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Revised-List-of-Infrastructure-Flagship-Projects-as-of-2.17.2020.pdf|
|Completion cost (projected)||PHP 20,313,920,000||http://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Revised-List-of-Infrastructure-Flagship-Projects-as-of-2.17.2020.pdf|
|Completion date (projected)||2025|
|Scope at completion||1. Command and control structure.
2. Command and control center system
3. LTE critical communication system
4. Video surveillance sites
5. One key emergency button devices
6. VIP/Major event protection systems
7. Disaster Notification solution
8. IT Infrastructure
9. Network system
10. System security
11. Project implementation services
12. Training services
13. Operation and maintenance
|Reasons for project changes||Not available|
|Reference to audit and evaluation reports||Not available|
|Procurement||Procuring entity||Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Procuring entity contact details||DILG-NAPOLCOM Center EDSA Corner Quezon Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City. Telephone numbers: 925-1148; 925-0332||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Procurement process||Bidding will be conducted in accordance with the applicable procedures as specified in the Government Procurement Reform Act and Is open to the three pre-selected bidders as recommended by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, as defined in the Bilateral Agreement. The pre-selected bidders shall be evaluated on the bases of eligibility, technical, and financial capabilities. The contract shall be awarded to the Lowest Calculated Responsive Bidder (LCRB) who was determined as such during post-qualification.||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Contract type||Design, supply, construction, and implementation||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Contract status (current)||Signed and awarded on November 19 ||https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1059221|
|Number of firms tendering||Not available|
|Cost estimate||US$ 398,000,000||https://dilg.gov.ph/bids/Bid-Bulletin-No-1-of-Safe-Philippines-Project-Phase-1/2510|
|Contract administration entity||Not available|
|Contract title||Not available|
|Contract firm(s)||China International Telecommunication Construction Corp. (CITCC)||https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1059221|
|Contract price||USD 396.8-million||https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1059221|
|Contract scope of work||Not available|
|Contract start date and duration||The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) formally launched on Friday (November 22, 2019) – 2023||https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1086797; http://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Revised-List-of-Infrastructure-Flagship-Projects-as-of-2.17.2020.pdf|
|Implementation||Variation to contract price||Not available|
|Escalation of contract price||Not available|
|Variation to contract duration||Not available|
|Variation to contract scope||Not available|
|Reasons for price changes||Not available|
|Reasons for scope & duration changes||Not available|