De Lima claims her cellphones have been wiretapped

MANILA, Philippines - Amid allegations about her reported involvement in the illegal drug trade, Senator Leila De Lima revealed on Thursday, September 1, that her cellphones are being wiretapped.

Senator Leila De Lima
Senator Leila De Lima
During the Senate hearing on public order and dangerous drugs, De Lima revealed that her cellphones have been wiretapped for a long time. The former Justice Secretary questioned authorities if her phones were tapped because she was being tagged as a drug protector or as a terrorist.

“So what legitimate purpose is being served kung ganun? Terrorist ho ba ako o dahil yung sinasabi ng iba na (drug) coddler ako? Yun ho ba ang purpose kung bakit tina-tap ang mga cellphones ko ngayon? I don’t expect anyone to answer that question, I’m just thinking aloud,” De Lima said.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa answered De Lima’s query and claimed that his cellphone was also being tapped.

The lady senator then asked Dela Rosa who could be behind the wiretapping if his claim is true.

Dela Rosa replied: “Your honor , we have no control over the technology. Meron tayong mga foreigners na may technology na ganun, at wala tayong control sa kanila. They can monitor our conversation from far away place. Yun ang problema natin.”

Amending the Anti-Wiretapping Act of 1965

During the hearing, the lawmakers also discussed the legislative proposal authorizing the wiretapping of communications of suspected drug pushers.

De Lima, a former Human Rights Chair ,said she supports the necessary amendments to the Anti-Wiretapping Act but stressed that there should be a balance to ensure that the individual’s right to privacy is respected. Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed De Lima’s concern.

The bill filed by Senator Gringo Honasan seeks to authorize wiretapping, surveillance, and interception to fight illegal drug trade in the Philippines. Honasan said drug pushers, cultivators, manufacturers, importers and financiers can be tracked down better if investigative tools and authorities’ enforcement capabilities will be improved.

“Wiretapping may help to establish the flow of drugs and how they are managed from the source to the market,” Honasan said.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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