Lacson says texting not covered by Anti-Wiretapping Law

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said text messages and other forms of digital technology are not covered by the 52-year-old Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act.

Lacson is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1210, which seeks to expand the coverage of the law to include technology.

Asked if texts are covered, Lacson said: “Hindi covered ang mga ganoon [texting]. Ang bago sa digital technology maraming di covered kaya dapat talaga i-expand ang scope and coverage.” (Those are not covered. Many new development in digital technology are not yet covered that's why the law's scope and coverage have to be expanded.)

Lacson’s remarks came after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre filed 3 counts of violation of RA 4200 against opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros before the Pasay City prosecutor’s office, which is under his office.

Aguirre also filed an ethics complaint against the senator on the same grounds, following her presentation of a photo of Aguirre’s conversation with former Negros Occidental Representative Jing Paras urging the latter to “expedite” cases against her. The photo was taken during a public Senate hearing on the killings of minors.

SB 1210 is pending second reading approval in the Senate. But Lacson said the bill has so far no counterpart in the House of Representatives, which means even if the Senate passes it, it will not become a law.

“Hindi pa kasi na-amend ang Anti-Wiretapping Act. Kaya nga ine-expand natin ang scope and coverage para masakop hindi lang present technology kundi ang darating pang technology, sinakop na sa bill. Ang problema walang counterpart sa [House] at dito naka-pending sa interpellation,” Lacson said. (The Anti-Wiretapping Act has yet to be amended. That's why we are seeking to expand its scope and coverage so that not only the present technology will be covered, but also the future technology. The problem is it has no counterpart bill in the House and here, it is pending for interpellation.) 

SB 1210 seeks to adapt to the current and future advances in technology by prohibiting wiretapping through “the use of any mode, form, kind or type of electronic, mechanical, or other equipment or device or technology now known or may hereafter be known to science.” –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email