By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, Sept. 1 (PNA) – Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said Thursday he does not believe that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has no capability to wiretap, noting that it was already being done in the late 1990s.
Lacson was responding to PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s denial that the police has the capability to secretly listen to phone calls.
“I wish (we) had that capability,” dela Rosa replied to the seemingly unconvinced senator during the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
Lacson said in an interview that when he was PNP chief, the agency was already performing wiretap operations.
He however admitted that if he were in dela Rosa’s position, he would also deny it, owing to the sensitivity of the issue and because amendments to the anti-wiretapping law have yet to be passed.
He said dela Rosa just might admit it once the proposed amendments become “legal”.
Lacson cited the 2004 “Hello, Garci” scandal as proof that electronic wiretapping could already be done. The scandal involved former president Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo who allegedly rigged the 2004 national election results in her favor.
“If this happened in 2004, I don’t see any reason why (it can’t be done) in 2016. Whether or they procured it through the procurement law or through other means, I know for a fact that there is available equipment,” he added.
Asked if he believes the PNP was responsible for wiretapping phone conversations between Senator Leila de Lima and her rumored lover, Ronnie Dayan that allegedly prove her links to the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, Lacson said he did not know.
De Lima, in the same hearing, claimed that her phone conversations were being wiretapped. Dela Rosa, in response, quipped that he felt like he too was being wiretapped.
Lacson however said that this might explain why dela Rosa kept denying the police’s capability to wiretap.
“They might have been afraid de Lima would see them in a bad light,” Lacson said.