PDEA wants to wiretap drug suspects

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2014 06:27 PM | Updated as of Jan 07 2014 05:09 PM

MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is urging Congress to enact a law allowing them to wiretap individuals suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade.

This is following confirmation that the Sinaloa Cartel, described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, had made forays into Philippine territory.

PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr. said at least 98% of wiretapping activities in the US are related to monitoring the illegal drug trade.

He said PDEA is now on top of the situation as far as the Mexican drug cartel is concerned, and optimistic that the drug situation in the country will get better after neutralizing the group last year in Batangas. "Hindi po lalala ang sitwasyon sa Pilipinas," he said.

Cacdac said that if wiretaps are allowed for drug suspects, proper guidelines will be put in place to avoid abuse and violation of human rights.

"Maglalagay tayo ng safeguard. Magpapaalam tayo sa korte, at yung gamit, pagkatapos gamitin dapat nasa secure na lugar to make sure na hindi ito magagamit," he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Grace Poe said she will conduct a public hearing in February to seek support from other members of the Senate and to help in the formulation of its guidelines.

"I'm for it. Ang mahirap eh basta mag wiretap na lang ng walang proseso. Pag-aaralan nating mabuti ang paglalagay ng safeguard," she said.

The senator is leaving for Mexico soon to represent the Philippines in the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) in Puerto Vallarta from January 12-16, 2014.

The APPF, consisting of 27 member-countries, seeks to provide opportunities for national parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific to discuss matters of common concern and interest, and promote regional cooperation.

The upcoming gathering will hold plenary sessions on political and security matters, economics and trade, and regional cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

Aside from wiretapping, Senator Poe will also look into the proposal of the enforcement agencies on the creation of a special anti-drug unit within the police organization.

PNP chief Alan Purisima and Cacdac noted that the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF) is a mere task force and not a regular unit that assists PDEA in drug cases.

A special PNP unit will add more personnel to PDEA as far as surveillance and operations are concerned, the PNP chief said.

Cacdac and PNP Chief Alan Purisima refused to give further details about the Mexican drug cartel as investigation is on going.

But Purisima said they have yet to find any evidence that will link the group with Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste after a shabu storage facility was found on the ranch owned by the Leviste clan.

"Wala pang evidence na nagsasabing na may link si Vice Governor (Leviste)," he said.

Purisima also refused to comment further on the shooting of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Okol Talumpa as they are still in the process of investigation.

He, however, said that Talumpa's advocacy against the illegal drug trade is being investigated.

"Mainly that's the concentration. We are still gathering information related to that," he said.