Palace belies buying ‘spy gadgets’ to be used vs opposition

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

MALACANANG on Thursday denied that the government purchased "spy gadgets" to be used against the opposition.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Department of National Defense (DND) has bought equipment as part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines "and will be used primarily in the campaign against terrorism."

Navotas City Representative Toby Tiangco has accused the Aquino administration of buying spy gadgets to be used against the opposition.

"From the time that the Aquino administration took office, the Department of National Defense has made it a priority to ensure the professionalization on the Armed Forces of the Philippines; hence, the references to past misdeeds, such as the 'Hello Garci' incident, are things of the past," Coloma said during a press briefing.

"Hello Garci" was an alleged wiretapped conversation between former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then poll Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano prior to the 2004 presidential elections.

The DND on Thursday said military spy equipment will be used in the fight against terrorist groups and other groups out to wreak havoc.

Arsenio Andolong, DND public affairs service chief, said the contract was signed with the Rohde and Schwarz of Germany last February and the equipment are due for delivery this August.

However, Andolong said that the equipment will not be used for politics.

Tiangco, secretary general of the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said the P135 million equipment will be used to spy on civilians, particularly critics of the Aquino administration.

Andolong said DND purchases "are in line with its constitutionally mandated duty of safeguarding the nation and its people."

"Our efforts to upgrade the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines remain one of our highest priorities as we move our focus from internal security operations towards building a credible external defense," he said.

Andolong said the acquisition of the Radio Frequency Test Equipment is no different.

"The RFTE has been identified as a capability requirement of the AFP and is intended to boost the latter's capacity to combat terrorism and protect the Filipino nation and its people," said Andolong.

Andolong said the acquisition of the equipment is in line with the Human Security Act of 2007, or the "act to secure the State and protect our people from terrorism."

"Simply put, the RFTE is intended for counterterrorism and monitoring the activities of those who intend to wreak havoc and sow terror in our communities. The acquisition of such equipment is meant to safeguard the Filipino people and not to violate the rights and intrude on the privacy of our citizens," he said.

Andolong assured the public that the AFP "is a professional organization, and would in no way, use its resources for any political purpose." (SDR/VR/Sunnex)

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