Press Release
December 17, 2012

Senate approves wiretapping of drug pushers

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to authorize the wiretapping, interception and recording of communications and surveillance of pushers, manufacturers, cultivators, importers and financiers of dangerous drugs.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and sponsored of Senate Bill No. 3341, said wiretapping people involved in the peddling and importation of dangerous drugs will help establish the flow of drugs and how they are managed from the source to the market.

"It will take more than the present methods to address the drug trade which has assumed global proportions and now poses a threat to national security. We need to upgrade our countermeasures against this global menace," Honasan said.

Data from courts in the United States for the past 15 years show that nine out of every 10 wiretapping orders issued by the U.S. courts involved narcotics.

Although the law recognizes wiretapping as invasion of privacy, he explained, the proposed measure seeks to use legally authorized intercepted conversations as evidence in court, which involves the sale, manufacturing, importing and financing of illegal drugs.

Similar to a search warrant or a warrant of arrest, the existence of probable cause is required for the issuance of a wiretapping order.

The bill also seeks the designation of at least one special division of the Court of Appeals to handle all requests for wiretapping orders.

Under the proposed legislation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director shall approve all applications for wiretapping before such applications are filed ex-parte with the Court of Appeals.

The approved period for wiretapping and surveillance is limited to 30 days but can be extended for another 30 days.

The bill further seeks to protect the identities of the lawenforcers by keeping their identities as contained in the order of the Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved two local bills that would convert the Land Transportation Office (LTO) extension office into a regular LTO District Office.

Sen. Bong Revilla, Jr., chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Services, said House Bill 1167 will convert the LTO extension office in Dapa, Surigao del Norte into a regular LTO district office while HBN 3734 will convert the LTO extension office in Paniqui, Tarlac into a regular LTO district office.

Also approved was a bill sponsored by Revilla, House Bill No. 6550, which will allow the Olongapo Electricity Distribution Company Inc. to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain a distribution system for the conveyance of electric power to Olongapo City and its suburbs. (OLIVE CAUNAN)

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