By Raymund Antonio
The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo underscored the need to review the proposal to expand the government’s wiretapping powers in fighting terrorism and other threats to national security.
Vice presidential spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said the implementation of an expanded wiretapping law should be discussed thoroughly by Congress because it can lead to abuse.
“Siguro tingin ko dapat pag-usapan nang mabuti dahil sa kasalukuyan, napakalaki talaga ng potential na maabuso kung hindi aayusin nang maganda iyong mga safeguards,” he said.
(I think it should be discussed thoroughly because there is really a big potential it can be abused if proper safeguards are not put in place.)
Gutierrez, who is a former Akbayan representative, made the call during Robredo’s weekly radio show, amid concerns the proposed amended law when approved can be used for ill motives.
Robredo’s spokesman cited a scenario wherein law enforcers could abuse their expanded wiretapping powers to run after those critical of the administration instead of terror suspects.
“Sa sitwasyon natin ngayon, nakikita natin na iyong mga batas pang-kriminal, eh ginagamit hindi laban sa mga kriminal pero laban doon sa mga kritiko ng pamahalaan,” he said.
(In our situation now, we have seen our laws are not being used against criminals, but to the critics of the government.)
Gutierrez was referring to the sedition complaint and other criminal charges filed by the police before the Department of Justice against Robredo and other opposition figures and allies.
“Patunay iyan talaga na ang laki ng potensyal para abusuhin ang batas para ipitin iyong mga hindi natin kakampi o hindi natin tinuturing na kasama sa politika,” he said.
(That’s a proof of the huge potential the law can be used to undermine those who are not their political allies.)
The Robredo camp wants further study on the amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372 after both chambers of Congress were seen to be favor of it.
The law allows wiretapping for terror suspects for an initial period of 30 days, with one extension of up to 30 days, provided it is approved by the Court of Appeals.
Under the proposed amended law, it seeks to extend the period up to 90 more days to give authorities enough time to conduct their wiretapping operations. (Raymund F. Antonio)