Robredo: It’s ‘unlawful’ for a foreign body to spy on Filipinos
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Vice President Leni Robredo said she found it “frightening” that President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the “unlawful” spying by a foreign government on Filipino civilians.
Speaking to reporters here over the weekend, Robredo reminded the President that allowing foreign intelligence agencies to spy on Filipino civilians is prohibited under Philippine laws.
“It’s frightening, what the President said, that his source of information came from a foreign government spying on the Filipino people. First of all, it’s unlawful. Our laws don’t allow it,” Robredo said in Filipino.
She pointed out that among the laws protecting the Filipinos from surveillance, either from local or foreign entities, is the Anti-Wiretapping Act, or Republic Act No. 4200, which was enacted in 1965.
She said the President’s action would have an impact not only on the privacy of Filipinos but on the country’s security as well.
“Does it mean that it [foreign intelligence] is being favored more than the Filipino citizens? If you are a public official, the protection of the interest of the Filipinos must be your utmost mission,” she said.
Allowing an intelligence entity from another country to do surveillance on the Philippines’ communications system is a “serious crime,” according to Robredo.
The Vice President was referring to the President’s decision to release a document showing an alleged plot to oust him, which was published in The Manila Times, accusing some media organizations, journalists, lawyers and other personalities to be behind it.
The President said he learned about the plan from an intelligence source from a “friendly” foreign country.
The diagram involving personalities in the so-called “Oust Duterte matrix” was, however, based solely on a statement from an unnamed source.
Among those implicated were the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Vera Files, Rappler, and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). All of them have denied the accusation.
Robredo said it would be best if the government would first validate the veracity of the diagram as it was not the first time that the President had made public a matrix behind an alleged plot. She said she was even named among the “destabilizers” in the previous alleged plot, which was proven to be false.
“I think the President must tell the truth. Did he really allow [the spying by a foreign intelligence agency] to be done to our people?” she asked.
Neri Colmenares, chairman of both the NUPL and Bayan Muna, also questioned the President’s pronouncement.
“But who is this ‘foreign intelligence body’ that’s apparently conducting some surveillance on lawyers and journalists?” Colmenares said. “Why is the President putting much more store into their foreign intelligence body than that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police which denied there was such as an oust Duterte plot?”
For the President to rely on reports of foreign intelligence spying on Filipinos is an act of treason, he said.
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