Palace downplays foreign spying on Duterte critics

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2018 07:42 PM

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, seen in this photo taken at the Senate on Sept. 5, are among President Rodrigo Duterte's most vocal critics. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News​

MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday downplayed the supposed spying of a foreign country on critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte on Tuesday said a foreign country “sympathetic” to him has supplied information on his critics.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described this supposed move by a foreign ally of the President as part of diplomatic relations.

“You know, even as early as the time when new inter-state relations develop, the gathering on intel has always been recognized as a function of diplomatic missions -- we have regular reports from our own embassies, we also get intel information -- that’s the nature of diplomatic relations nowadays,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Duterte said his critics such as communist leader Jose Maria Sison, the Magdalo group, and those who have been rejecting him since the May 2016 elections “have combined" in supposed destabilization efforts. 

“I have the evidence. I have the conversation provided by a foreign country sympathetic to us. We don’t have that sophistication,” he said without naming his source. 

“Any day now, I asked that it be declassified at ipakita nila sa lahat (that it be shown to everyone).”

This is not the first time that Duterte claimed that a foreign country has given him information about his critics.

He previously said that a foreign country provided him supposed tapped conversations of detained Senator Leila de Lima, which allegedly prove the latter’s involvement in the drug trade.

This prompted De Lima to file a petition for writ of habeas data before the Supreme Court.

De Lima, a fierce administration critic, has been detained since February last year over drug charges, which she decried as political persecution.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a Duterte critic, said if the President’s claim was true, the chief executive may have violated the country’s anti-wiretapping law and allowed breach of security by a foreign country.