By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has dismissed as mere negative thinking the concerns being raised on the move to expand the government’s wiretapping powers.
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said that they support the expansion of wiretapping coverage in order to effectively address terrorism and other serious threats to national security.
PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde
(MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
“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,” said Albayalde.
Expanding the government’s wiretapping powers is part of the amendment to the Human Security Act being pushed by security officials who claimed that this would add more teeth to the fight against terrorism.
From the current 30 days, security officials want to expand the timeframe to 90 days as they argued that it takes time to investigate secretive groups like terror cells in the country.
A court order, however, is still needed before the government is allowed to wiretap a person it would classify as part of a terror threat or threat to national security. A breach in this protocol is already a violation of the existing Anti-Wiretapping Law.
Aside from wiretapping, another amendment being pushed by the government is to extend its authority to hold a terror suspect from the current 72 hours to at least 30 days, even without the filing of charges.
Concerns, however, were raised that such amendments would be abused like in the past especially in running after critics and members of the political opposition.
Albayalde insisted on sticking to the positive side of the amendment of the Human Security Act.
“These acts or laws are meant to address criminality, terrorism. Hindi po ito addresses sa political rivalry na naman,” said Albayalde.
“Let us do away with this kind of mentality. There is no political color in this,” he added.
The PNP is supporting the amendments because based on their experience, it really takes time to monitor terrorists and their cells, Albayalde said
He said terrorists have wide networks and cells and the 30-day period is not enough to identify other members of the terror networks and their source of finances from the Philippines and from abroad.