House lawmakers nix wiretap powers for PDEA

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

THE chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs on Thursday doused cold water on the request of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to rush a bill seeking to allow the wiretapping of suspects involved in illegal drug trade.

Iligan City Representative Vicente Belmonte Jr., the panel chairman, said the committee will deliberate on such proposals but cautioned that amending PDEA's charter embodied in Republic Act 9165 is open to abuse.

"There are many pending bills for deliberations. But, we will be cautious because this can be abused if approved without safety nets," he said.

PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr. earlier said that the agency will seek the help of Senator Grace Poe to pass the law allowing PDEA to seek wiretapping authority from the courts.

Cacdac said the authority is similar to that which is granted to the police under the Human Security Act of 2007 to wiretap suspected terrorists and their networks.

PDEA's request came after its confirmation that the Sinaloa drug cartel from Mexico had established a presence in the Philippines.

Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr., also Speaker of the House of Representatives, did not commit to the enactment of the measure, which will amend provisions of the RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

"At least ma-hearing ng committee. We have to carefully look into it," the House Speaker said.

Congress is set to resume its legislative session on January 20. (Sunnex)

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