House bill authorizing wire-tapping in drug cases taken into consideration by Senate

MANILA — A House proposal to authorize wire tapping in cases involving violations of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” has already been taken into consideration by two Senate committees when they approved the bill’s counterpart measure.

In their committee report submitted last Feb. 1, 2016 prior to the congressional adjournment, the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, and committee on national defense security chaired by Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, recommended the approval of Senate Bill 2139 which seeks to amend certain sections of RA 4200, otherwise known as “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wiretapping, and Other Related Violations of the Privacy of Communication, and For Other Purposes.”

The Senate panels recommended the plenary approval of Senate Bill 2139 with amendments and taking into consideration Senate Bill 67, which is authored by Sen. Gringo Honasan titled “Authorizing the Wiretapping, Interception, Surveillance and Recording Of Communications of Pushers, Manufacturers, Cultivators, Importers and Financiers of Dangerous Drugs, Amending for the Purpose RA 9165,” and House Bill 6107 or the proposed “Act Authorizing Wire Tapping In Cases Involving Violations of RA 9165, Otherwise Known As The “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act Of 2002”, Amending for the Purpose Section 3 of RA 4200, Entitled “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire Tapping And Other Related Violations Of The Privacy Of Communication, And For Other Purposes.”

House Bill 6107, principally authored by Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr. (Lone District, Iligan City), was approved on third and final reading by the House on Oct. 9, 2015 and thereafter transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.

Belmonte, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the bill sought to amend the anti-wiretapping law to include operations against drug-related offenses as an exemption.

He noted that the present law only allowed wiretapping upon securing a court order for operations against treason, sedition, rebellion and kidnapping.

“We need to capture the kings and queen, not the runners. These contrabands empower the drug lords, with their drug dealings within the confines of their detention facilities,” said Belmonte.

House Bill 6107 seeks to amend Section 3 of RA 4200 so that “Nothing contained in the Act, shall render it unlawful or punishable for any peace officer and law enforcer, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the two preceding sections in cases involving the crimes of treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, Violations of Republic Act 9165, Otherwise Known As “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act Of 2002,” and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security.

The court referred to in the section shall mean the Regional Trial Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the acts for which authority is applied for are to be executed.

Meanwhile, the two Senate committees recommended the insertion of a Section 2 in Senate Bill 2139 titled Implementing Rules and Regulations which mandates the Philippine Drug and Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in coordination with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Security Council (NSC) and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to formulate the implementing rules and regulations.

House Bill 6107 is also authored by Reps. Jeffrey Ferrer, Bai Sandra Sema, Leopoldo Bataoil and Samuel Pagdilao.PNA/