The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) clarifies that the Safe Philippines emergency response and monitoring system is not primarily for surveillance but is an integrated system to improve police response time as well as to deter and reduce crime.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that the project will 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.
"A similar system is in place in many cities in the world especially in large metropolitan cities like Metro Manila. It's about time we have a similar system in our country," says the DILG chief.
"Under this project, we can reduce crime by 15% and improve response time by 25%," he says.
On November 19, 2018, the DILG signed the $396.8 million contract with the winning bidder China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) for the construction and installation of monitoring systems in Metro Manila and Davao City.
Under phase 1 of the Safe Philippines Project, DILG will provide 18 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila and Davao City with integrated operations and command centers and a remote back-up data center.
According to Año, all cities in Metro Manila and Davao City will have its own command center located in the Philippine National Police (PNP) city headquarters. Meanwhile, a national command center will be constructed in Metro Manila, while its remote back-up data center will be placed in the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
Metro Manila was identified as the pilot city for the project due to its dense population. Davao City, on the other hand, was chosen to complement the monitoring system already in place in the city.
The DILG Secretary assures the public that the Department will take necessary measures such as installing protocols and standard operating procedures to protect the data stored in the CCTV system.
"The DILG will install the the necessary fire walls to protect the system from hackers and other threats. This will be installed by the DILG and funded by our government," he says.
“The public also doesn’t have to worry about data breaches in the project as there will be no storage of classified data or information inimical to national security in the CCTV system,” says Año.
“The project will simply allow our police to respond to criminal activities, address disasters and traffic issues, and apprehend suspects in the event of threats to public order, safety and security,” he adds.
Huawei did not win the project
Meanwhile, Año clarifies that while the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. was one of the three bidders of the project, it did not win the bid. “Huawei and CMEC were disqualified from the bid because they did not meet the standards and specifications of the Special Bids and Awards Committee. Only CITCC met the requirements,” says Año.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has been wanting to build a similar system since the previous administration, but it never took off because of the high cost,” he explains.
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.
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.
"People living in Metro Manila and Davao City will feel a lot more safer walking the streets at night knowing that this system is in place," says Año.
“This will further empower local government units and our police to be more responsive and proactive in addressing crime-related incidents,” says the DILG chief.