Pols jeopardizing PNP spying capability

EFFORTS of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces to acquire more state-of-the-art surveillance equipment needed in fighting drugs and terror is being hampered especially by opposition members in Congress, officials said on Thursday.

PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde  said that politics is one of the main reasons why they can’t immediately purchase modern surveillance tools badly needed in fighting international drug syndicates and ISIS-inspired terror groups operating in the country.

“We cannot request ‘yung mga ganoong surveillance equipment. Sometimes nagiging political issue kaya hindi tayo maka-improve ng ating mga importanteng surveillance equipment,” he said.

It is a fact that the political opposition in any administration in the country is against the purchase of such ‘spy tools’ since they are worried that the present government will use it against them. Add to them the presence of other lawmakers, big businessmen and journalists who also fear the same.

To illustrate his point, one security official who demanded anonymity said that when the Defense department a few years ago bared that their modernization program includes the purchase of radio frequency test equipment needed in counter-terrorism, the opposition immediately cried that the modern tool can be used to spy on civilians specifically government critics.

Both the PNP and the AFP have called on amendments to Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law which prohibits the unauthorized recording of private communications and only allows law enforcers to conduct such action if they have a court order and can prove that their action concerns national security.

The police and military leadership have long given assurance that they will not intrude into the privacy of citizens in purchasing surveillance tools which is in accordance with the Human Security Act of 2007 or the anti-terror law.

According to Gen. Albayalde, it is high time for the government to acquire modern technical intelligence equipment to combat terror. The PNP earlier revealed that a DNA test showed that one of the two suicide bombers that hit a military camp in Indanan.