Dela Rosa: 'Wiretapping' device is PNP wish, not reality
MANILA, Philippines – Insisting that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has no equipment to intercept communication, Director General Ronald dela Rosa said it was part of their “wish list.”
“It’s part of our wish list but [President Rodrigo Duterte] might just grant our wish,” Dela Rosa told reporters on Thursday, September 1, after a House of Representatives briefing for the 2017 budget of the interior department, which the PNP is under.
Earlier on Thursday, Dela Rosa told a Senate committee that the PNP has no capacity to intercept communication. The exchange came after Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte, claimed her mobile phones were being tapped.
Dela Rosa blamed foreigners who he said had that technology.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who once headed the PNP, was in disbelief.
“I know there is an equipment that is capable of recording and jamming, kaya nagulat ako kay General Bato nang sabihin na wala silang kakayahan (that's why I was surprised when General Bato said they have no capability),” he told media after the Senate hearing.
Intelligence sources also told Rappler that the PNP has been able to deploy vans with listening devices as early as 2014.
Wiretapping is an old term that refers to connecting a listening device to a phone line. In the modern, mobile phone-driven world, the PNP chief is likely referring to equipment that could track conversations, real time, on mobile devices and within a specific area.
Dela Rosa insists the PNP does its own intelligence work “mano-mano” (manual).
“We call it human intelligence,” he quipped.
“Not technical intelligence or signal intelligence. Mahiya tayo diyan kaya wala tayong (We’re weak there because we don’t have the) equipment. Hanggang ngayon human intelligence pa rin tayo... kung baga binisaya na intelligence (To this day we rely on human intelligence. In other words, Binisaya intelligence),” he added in jest.
Dela Rosa said the need is urgent, especially in the context of the government’s ongoing “war on drugs.” Current laws, however, restrict legal wiretapping – as permitted by a court – for suspected terrorists.
The police want drug suspects to be among the exceptions in the anti-wiretapping law.
“We are now in the thick of the fight sa ating (in our) war on drugs. Pag ma-approve yan yung ammendment na yan (If that amendment is passed), then I will ask the President to give us that equipment,” said Dela Rosa.
The Senate is currently holding hearings to discuss the possible amendment of the anti-wiretapping law.
Dela Rosa leads the PNP its intensified campaign against illegal drugs. Close to 2,500 people have died in both anti-illegal drugs operations by police and apparent extrajudicial killings. (READ: Death toll breaches 2,000-mark)
Police have also arrested more than 13,000 drug suspects over a 2-month period. More than 600,000 drug users and pushers, meanwhile, have turned themselves as a result of “Oplan Tukhang,” a knock-and-plead operation where cops ask drug personalities to surrender and change their ways. – Rappler.com