The Philippine Star reports:
With 216 votes, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that aims to authorize wiretapping in cases involving drug trafficking and other related cases.
“This is a big boost to the anti-illegal drug war of President Duterte and his campaign to arrest all forms of criminalities,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said of House Bill 8378.
The measure seeks to amend the 53-year-old Republic Act 4200 or the law that prohibits and penalizes “wiretapping and other related violations of the privacy of communication.”
Barbers said the bill seeks to expand the coverage of the anti-wiretapping law, which will now include communication involving other organized and syndicated crimes not previously covered.
In HB 8378, wiretapping can be legal if sanctioned by the judiciary and if law enforcers see the need for it against suspects who are deemed to have violated the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs law, among others.
Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, one of the authors of the consolidated measure, assured the public that “the right to privacy of Filipinos is also protected under the measure.”
“There must be a lawful order from the court before allowing wiretapping in some cases,” the chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development said.
Administration lawmaker Rep. Michael Romero said privacy of communication and correspondence, as mandated by Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution, is strengthened with the enactment of RA 4200, which prohibits and penalizes wiretapping.
“However, it must be stressed that RA 4200, particularly Section 3 thereof, provided several exceptions to the prohibitions,” the 1Pacman party-list lawmaker added.
Another co-author, eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, said the proposed amendments would now cover the wiretapping ban in the use of any electronic, mechanical, digital or analog phone system, or similar devices.
“The measure seeks to outlaw eavesdropping on private communications using modern electronic gadgets or devices and at the same time allows law enforcers to conduct wiretapping in some cases, but with the presence of permit from the court,” he said. Evardone is the chairman of the House committee on public information.
The present law, passed in June 1965, prohibits wiretapping only through the use of dictaphones, dicta graphs, walkie-talkies and tape recorders.