Binay unfazed by reports of US spying

By Jose Rodel Clapano, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 23 2014 04:47 AM | Updated as of May 23 2014 12:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday that he is not at all affected by reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on him.

In an interview during the closing ceremonies of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Annual National Council meeting in Bacolod City, Binay said being monitored by intelligence agents has been part of his life even when he was a human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship.

“It’s hard to speculate. I just don’t mind it,” Binay said.

Binay added he was not totally sure of the report.

“Even if it is true, during the time that we are joining the rallies, I was a human rights lawyer, I was part of the activists at that time. Spies or whatever are always following us, even now that I’m already in government. That is alright,” Binay said.

Earlier reports had it that Binay and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II appear to have been included in the list of targets by the US NSA that was using an underwater cable surveillance program in 2013.

The report cited the French newspaper Le Monde that decrypted a page from an internal file unveiled by NSA whistle-blower and American fugitive Edward Snowden, claiming that Binay and Roxas were victims of communication interception for one month through underwater cables.

Le Monde’s May 9 report said that an NSA program called Upstream used submarine cables to collect and carry essential data from conversations of Binay and Roxas.

Upstream lines also carried surveillance information from conversations in a resort in the Caribbean, an institute of physics in Italy, emails of Saudi Telecom staff, a computer company in Pakistan and a telecom company’s subsidiary in Libya.

Le Monde said the intention of the NSA for monitoring Binay and Roxas is not clear because the two are not known for having anti-US views.

Binay has consistently expressed his intention to run for president in 2016, while Roxas is the acknowledged next standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party.