Esperon: Military to use wiretapping ‘if called for’

‘Probable suspects’ not media are targets By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 12:45pm (Mla time) 07/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military will resort to wiretapping as provided under the Human Security Act “if called for,” Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday, but stressed that this would not be aimed primarily at media organizations.


“Well if it’s called for,” Esperon told reporters when asked if the military would bug its enemies.


“But no, this is not wiretapping of the media, but wiretapping of probable suspects,” said Esperon who, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, attended the 109th anniversary of the Presidential Security Group at the PSG Compound in Malacañang.


Wiretapping of suspected terrorists is among the salient features of the HSA due to take effect July 15.


Reports quoting Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez had said that wiretapping could also be used against members of media.


But Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Gonzalez was not quoted correctly.


Esperon said that if ever wiretapping would be done, “which is very remote, then it has to be with court approval.”


This is one safeguard, he added.


And if ever the military will resort to it, it will be against the Abu Sayyaf and the communist New People’s Army, said Esperon.


“The anti-terrorism law is not about wiretapping, it is about neutralizing would be terrorists and that should be for the good of all of us,” he said.


Esperon said that from 2001 to 2006, the Abu Sayyaf has killed 356 victims and the NPA has assassinated about 900.


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