By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that President Duterte did not commit any act of treason when he admitted that foreign countries were listening in on conversations of Filipinos in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said it can be considered as treason if President Duterte was allowing foreign countries to spy on Filipinos.
In his press briefing, Panelo said that it was ordinary for all countries to share intelligence information. He also believed that it did not violate the Constitution.
“It’s not [treason]. It’s an exchange of intelligence information. And all countries do that,” Panelo said Monday.
“I don’t think so (violating the Constitution). Kasi alam mo yung (Because you know) sharing of intelligence information hindi rin naman ibig sabihin nagso-surveillance yung mga yun (does not mean that they are putting people here under surveillance),” he added.
The Palace official also raised the possibility that the information given by the foreign country really originated from local intelligence agents.
“Pwede rin namang galing sa atin tapos sinabi doon sa… mga agents naman ‘yang mga ‘yan. Mga agents ng iba’t ibang bansa. Pwedeng galing dito, kung sino man ang nagbigay sa kanila, shinare sa atin. So it doesn’t follow na surveillance (It’s possible that the information came from here but the agents just shared it with foreign agents. So it doesn’t follow that there is surveillance),” Panelo said.
Earlier, Duterte admitted that foreign countries were listening in on the conversation of journalists. He made the statement after the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) released a three-part story on the Duterte family’s wealth.
After the President’s admission, Malacañang confirmed the existence of a matrix which linked members of the media and lawyers to an ouster plot against Duterte.
Panelo earlier said that receiving information from foreign country was not illegal since it was part of a process called intelligence information sharing.
“‘Yan ang tinatawag na (That is what we call) sharing of intelligence information. That’s standard for all countries if it affects the security,” he said.