Allow wiretaps in corruption cases, says Poe

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at May 12 2014 05:26 PM | Updated as of May 13 2014 02:02 AM

MANILA – Senator Grace Poe on Monday pitched anew her proposal to amend the Anti-Wiretapping Law to allow the monitoring of people suspected to be involved in corruption and illegal drug operations.

Poe made this call after Yolanda rehabilitation czar and former senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that he holds a copy of a wiretapped phone conversation submitted by alleged pork barrel scam player Janet Lim Napoles.

Lacson earlier said the audio file has ''revealing'' contents but he noted that it has no value as evidence because it was a wiretapped conversation. He also refused to provide further details about the recording.

Napoles' lawyer Bruce Rivera declined to identify the person in the phone conversation but noted that the latter was ''not on the list'' of the supposed beneficiaries of the multibillion-peso anomaly that his client turned over to the government.

The lawyer acknowledged that wiretapping is wrong, but his client nonetheless decided to reveal the phone conversation ''just to prove some point."

Poe agreed the phone conversation would not be admissible in court but this may ''act as a reference."

''Para sa akin mas okay na rin may ganyan eh, maaaring 'di gamitin iyan bilang ebidensya, dahil sa Anti-Wiretapping Act. Subalit magpa-papatibay lang sa kredibilidad ng mga witness o whistleblowers natin kung ano ang talagang nangyari. Reference lang siguro pero 'di maaaring gamiting ebidensya,'' she said.

Poe said the lack of such a provision in the Anti-Wiretapping Act is the reason why there is no closure yet to the ''Hello Garci'' wiretapping scandal which rocked the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 2005, alleged wiretap recordings of a woman, allegedly Arroyo, talking to former Commission on Elections official Virgilio Garcillano ignited talk that the 2004 presidential elections were rigged.

Arroyo confirmed talking to a poll official during the counting of votes in the 2004 polls, but denied ordering cheating in the polls.

The wiretap recordings led to a series of failed impeachment attempts against Mrs. Arroyo.