MANILA, July 12 (PNA) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) supports a proposed bill amending Republic Act No. 4200, otherwise known as the “Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of the’Privacy of Communication, and for Other Purposes”.
PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr. said the new bill is a welcome development and demonstrates the support of the House of Representatives to PDEA and the drug enforcement community as a whole.
“The proposed bill would address the need for additional investigative and judicial tools that grant authority to intercept criminal communications, particularly concerning illegal drug activities perpetrated by big-time syndicates,” Cacdac said.
House Bill 5839, authored by Congressman Vicente Belmonte, is an act authorizing wire tapping in cases involving violations of Republic Act 9165 or “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”.
“The proposed measure has amended certain elements of the anti-wire tapping law that delved into more detailed and specific contents of Section 1 and Section 3 of RA 4200,” Cacdac added.
Section 1 is proposed to be read as follows:
“SEC. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word… such as but not limited to wire, oral or electronic communication. To overhear, intercept, tap or record such communication or spoken word in any manner with the use of a device capable of such interception, tapping, overhearig or recording, or by any means utilizing any technology.
Meanwhile, Section 3 declared that nothing in this Act shall be rendered unlawful or punishable for any law enforcement agency or its peace officer, and/or any telecommunications company or internet service provider or their employee, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, in particular the Regional Trial Court (RTC)within whose territorial jurisdiction falls, to execute any of the acts stated in the preceding sections and criminal offenses as defined by the Revised Penal Code, violations of RA 9165, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security in consideration of the following:
a. The written order shall only be granted upon application and examination under oath of the applicant and his/her witnesses provided that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated has been committed or is being committed or is about to be committed;
b. That there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence to be obtained is essential to the conviction of any person committing the said offenses; and
c. That there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence.
Moreover, the written order issued shall specify the identity of both the suspected persons whose communications are to be overheard, intercepted or recorded and the peace officer and the telecommunications company or internet service provider or their employee who is authorized to record such conversations.
“We would like to thank Congressman Vicente Belmonte Jr. for sponsoring the bill. PDEA also expressed its heartfelt thanks to Senator Grace Poe and Senator Gregorio Honasan for their similar efforts of amending the anti-wiretapping law,” Cacdac said, adding that the eventual passage of the bill into law will empower PDEA and other drug law enforcement agencies to reach the command and control structure of drug-trafficking organizations and bring them to justice.
The latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) revealed that although PDEA and other law enforcement agencies made headway in promoting inter-agency coordination, as well as cooperation with international counterparts in 2014 which resulted in the high volume seizures of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, the lack of legislative efforts authorizing wiretapping for drug-related cases and the shortfall of reforms in the criminal justice system will continue to hamper the country’s efforts to combat international drug trafficking syndicates from using the Philippines as a market and transshipment point for dangerous drugs. (PNA)