By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs has approved a substitute bill seeking to authorize wiretapping in cases of coup d’etat, drug trafficking, robbery, syndicated illegal recruitment, and violations of the country’s anti-graft and anti-money laundering laws.
The House panel, chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers unanimously passed the unnumbered bill on Tuesday morning on the sidelines of the panel’s probe on the P6.8 billion shabu smuggling in the country.
The substitute bill was submitted by Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, chairman of the technical working group tasked to consolidate the eight measures seeking to amend the Republic Act (RA) 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act, for the mother committee’s approval. The bill amends the Republic Act (RA) 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
Acop said the TWG agreed to adopt the penalty of six months to six years of imprisonment without the benefit of probation against the violators of the proposed Act.
He said they included other crimes in which law enforcers shall be allowed to wiretap. These include coup d’etat, conspiracy and proposal to commit coup d’etat, robbery in band as defined and penalized by Articles 294, 295, 296, 299 and 302 of the Revised Penal Code and Presidential Decree 532, others known as the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974; violation of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act; syndicated illegal recruitment, and violations of Republic Act 9160, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
RA 4200 only authorizes law enforcers to wiretap in cases involving the crimes of treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, privacy , mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, and kidnapping
The substitute bill provides that it shall be unlawful for public telecommunication entities and other similar enterprises engaged in the business of voice and data transmission through wire, radio, digital or electronic means, to retain for more than one year records of voice and data, which do not have any pending case, passing through their system, including information on the identity of the parties, origin, destination, date, time and duration of the communication unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Violation of this provision shall cause for the prosecution of the responsible officers and personnel.
Any person who willfully or knowingly does or who shall violate or aids, permits, or causes such violation shall be penalized with six years to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P1 million , and with accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification from public office if the offender be a public official at the time of the commission of the offense, and if the offender is an alien, he shall be subject to deportation proceedings after service of sentence, according to the measure.