De Lima renews call to probe P20-B Chinese surveillance deal
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Sunday renewed her call urging the Senate to look into the P20-billion surveillance project that the government had awarded to a Chinese firm after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) launched its first phase despite opposition from lawmakers.
De Lima, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, warned that the DILG’s “Safe Philippines Project” might put the country’s national security in jeopardy since it would be led by China International Telecommunications and Construction Corp. (CITCC).
She said the surveillance system, which would install 10,000 security cameras all around Metro Manila and Davao City within a 30-month period, could also endanger the Filipinos’ right to privacy and give the Chinese state-owned firm access to private information.
“The right of the people to privacy necessitates that an inquiry be made into the information sought to be collected through surveillance using equipment sourced from these Chinese companies,” De Lima said in filing Senate Resolution No. 275.
“Public interest requires that inquiry be made as to the threats to the Philippines’ national security of contracts entered into with foreign companies whose questionable track record raises international concern,” she added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto was the first one who flagged the agreement, saying it posed security threats to the country as CITCC was an affiliate of China Telecom, part of a consortium that won the contract as the country’s third telco.
Recto also pointed out that CITCC had tapped Chinese technology company Huawei, which had been banned in the United States, Australia and other countries for espionage and hacking.
“Commercial contracts with companies whose international operations have put at risk the right of the people to privacy, entails careful scrutiny and utmost diligence in order to prevent abuses and violation of rights,” De Lima said in a statement.
“The matter of improving the country’s technological capability in the enforcement of laws must be put on a scale to strike a balance between gaining technological competence and yielding access to information from our country and our citizens,” she said.
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