Press Release
August 27, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today cautioned officials of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against prematurely clearing telecommunications companies of allegations that they or some of their personnel had connived with the military in illegal wiretapping activities during the 2004 presidential election.

Pimentel was reacting to the published statement of NTC commissioners that the service providers for telephone users (both landline and mobile) have no capability for eavesdropping phone conversations.

The statement was issued by the NTC commissioners after conducting on-site inspection of the facilities of major telecommunication firms based in Metro Manila last week.

Pimentel noted that the observation of the NTC officials contradicted the claim of retired T/Sgt. Vidal Doble that the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), where he served as an officer, was assisted by some personnel of a major leading service provider in wiretapping the phone conversations of former Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and other selected personalities during the 2004 election period.

"Prudence dictates that the NTC officials should refrain from issuing any statement on the matter that may pre-empt the investigation to be conducted by the Senate into the "Hello Garci" scandal," the minority leader said.

Pimentel asked what was the basis of the statement of NTC officials that the service providers are not capable of engaging in wiretapping activities.

"They should not play deaf and dumb. If they do not know what is going on, they deserve to be replaced because that means they are not capable of stopping illegal wiretapping activities," he said.

Pimentel said NTC officials will be invited to the planned Senate hearing on the Hello Garci scandal to explain what is the role of the agency in regulating wiretapping activities that are requested by intelligence agencies of the government and approved by the courts.

According to the lawmaker from Mindanao, even in the United States, certain service providers are under investigation for their alleged involvement in wiretapping activities that do not conform with the laws and in violation of the civil liberties of American citizens.

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