THE idea of installing Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems in government offices will help improve office efficiency, as it will minimize the practice of some employees of using much of their office time attending to personal concerns, and it will compel office managers to take action to avoid big crowds of people waiting to be attended to.
It may not help much in stopping the graft and corruption in some offices. That usually takes place away from public view and attention. Consider the recent cases involving millions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Or the losses in customs and revenue collections. Or the overpricing in construction projects. Or the frequent breakdowns in mass railway operations despite substantial contract payments.
CCTV cameras have been invaluable in solving crimes, especially in identifying perpetrators of violence on streets.
They would be very useful in easing the traffic problem along EDSA and other continually clogged streets of Metro Manila. Anytime traffic builds up anywhere in the city, as seen in an operations center, the operations chief can immediately send traffic accident investigators, or an ambulance and medical team, or a tow truck, or a scene-of-the-crime operatives (SOCO) team, or whatever else is needed to keep traffic moving again.
Sen. Ralph Recto noted the other day that the Department of Transportation asked the Senate for emergency powers to solve the EDSA problem, along with funds for major projects like subways and airports, which would reach a total of R1.15 trillion. The senator suggested that pending the approval of the big projects, the department should focus on what can be done immediately, such as clearing streets of illegally parked cars, widening of roads, providing more tow trucks, and improving street lighting. He may well include the installation of more CCTV cameras all over Metro Manila.
But CCTV cameras can also help push forward President Duterte’s anti-corruption program by serving as the visible symbol of the campaign, reminding everyone concerned that the President is watching and they should, therefore, be warned.
The President, through the CCTV cameras, will be watching those in government offices in charge of issuing documents like copies of birth certificates and drivers’ licenses. He will be watching, through other means, those in government who have managed all these years to skim off millions through policy decisions and actions, special arrangements and transactions, and other devious means that used to be tolerated in previous administrations.