PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde has expressed support for the proposed expansion of wiretapping coverage to strengthen the government’s campaign against terrorism and other national security threats.
“’Yung pinapalawig kasi kung minsan talaga ang isang suspected terrorist marami ka dapat alamin sa kanya. Remember there are different cells, different connections kung saan saan yan not only domestic but also abroad,” he said.
“Isa pang importante (na pwede malaman through wiretapping) is the source of finance, kung saan nanggagaling ‘yung financial support (ng isang grupo),” he added.
Albayalde dismissed concerns about the proposed expansion and said the people should instead focus on its positive effect.
“This is always a very negative thinking. We should look at this on a positive side because this is for everybody, we have to think of this because the problem of terrorism is not a joke,” he said.
“These acts or laws are meant to address criminality, terrorism. These laws are meant to address terrorism, criminality. Hindi po ito to address political rivalry na naman. Let us do away with this kind of mentality. There is no political color on this,” he added.
The proposed expansion would amend the Human Security Act. Security officials said this would add more teeth to the fight against terrorism.
Without an order from the court, authorities cannot use wiretapping during investigation and case buildup.
Security officials are also pushing to expand wiretapping duration to 90 days from the current 30 days, saying it takes time to investigate terror cells and similar groups.
They also proposed to extend to 30 days the period of time that authorities can hold a suspected terrorist, currently at 72 hours, to give investigators more time to gather evidence.
Concerns were raised that such amendments would be abused like in the past and used to run after critics and members of the political opposition.
Among those who raised concern was Vice President Leni Robredo.
In 2004, wiretapping was used in a conversation between a Comelec official and a top government official about alleged election-rigging matters. (SunStar Philippines)